Gazella rufifrons rufifrons
DESCRIPTION Shoulder height 25-27 inches (64-69 cm). Weight 55-65 pounds (25-29 kg).
A medium-sized, rather stoutly built gazelle. The typical race (rufifrons from Senegal) is a rich chestnut color on the back, with a broad, sandy-buff flank band from shoulder to hip, below which is a narrow dark brown band, and below that a narrow reddish-fawn shadow band. Underparts and back of rump are white. Pygal (rump) stripes are indistinct or absent. The tail is black except at the base, which is chestnut. There are no knee tufts. The forehead and facial blaze are a rich red color. There is a well-defined white stripe from over the eye to the mouth, and a buff stripe from eye to nostril. The nose spot is indistinct, or it may be absent. The rufifrons race is the largest red-fronted gazelle, with the widest skull, but grows the smallest horns. The horns (both sexes) are short, stout, heavily ringed until the last 2-3 inches (51-76 mm), evenly divergent and almost straight, curving slightly backward and then forward. Females are similar to males but have thinner, straighter and much smoother horns.
The Central African races (Niger River to the White Nile) are less red in color, being more of a yellowish brown. They have small knee tufts, and the nose spot either is absent or indistinct. The skull is smaller and much narrower, but the horns are longer and somewhat more inclined to curve inward at the tips.
BEHAVIOR Lives alone, in pairs, or in small family groups of 5-10. Breeding season is October-November or March-April, with one young born after six months gestation, so that two births are possible within one year. Lifespan up to 12 years.
Mostly active early and late in the day, but also at night where persecuted. Both a grazer and a browser, sometimes standing on hind legs to reach high branches. Fond of crops, seeking out cultivated fields. Needs little water, obtaining moisture from dew and vegetation. Eyesight, hearing and sense of smell are good.
HABITAT Grassland and open thornbush; subdesert areas. The red-fronted gazelle is less a dry country animal than any other gazelle.
DISTRIBUTION The Sudanese arid zone south of the Sahara sub-desert and in parts of the adjacent northern savanna zone, from Senegal eastward to the west bank of the Nile River in central Sudan. Reduced to small, scattered remnant populations in much of its range, because of the uncontrolled poaching and habitat degradation.
TAXONOMIC NOTES Includes these named forms: centralis (Chad), hasleri (northern Nigeria), kanuri (northern Cameroon), laevipes (central Sudan, west of the White Nile) and rufifrons (Senegal), with rufifrons Gray, 1846 having priority.