Procapra – Central Asian gazelles

Despite their name, they are not true gazelles; are considered the ancestor of goats

Central Asian gazelles, including the Mongolian gazelle (Procapra gutturosa), Przewalski’s gazelle (Procapra przewalskii), and the Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata), are remarkable examples of the adaptability and diversity of antelopes in the harsh environments of Central Asia. While sharing the common name of gazelle, these species exhibit significant differences in abundance, habitat preference, and conservation status, reflecting the varied challenges they face across their ranges.

The Mongolian gazelle is a testament to wildlife’s resilience in the face of adversity, boasting a population of well over one million individuals. This species roams the grasslands and steppes of Mongolia and parts of northern China, forming large herds that migrate vast distances for food and water. Their remarkable abundance makes them one of the most populous hoofed mammals globally, underscoring the importance of the Central Asian grasslands for biodiversity.

In stark contrast, Przewalski’s gazelle is one of the planet’s most critically endangered large mammals. Once widespread across the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and adjacent areas, its populations have dwindled dramatically due to human activities. The primary threats to Przewalski’s gazelle include habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, competition with domestic livestock for grazing resources, and the physical barriers created by fencing, which disrupt their natural migration patterns and fragment their populations.

The Tibetan gazelle, or Goa, finds itself in a slightly less dire but still concerning situation, classified as Near Threatened. This species inhabits the alpine and subalpine regions of the Tibetan Plateau, where it faces challenges similar to those of Przewalski’s gazelle, including habitat encroachment and competition with livestock.

Central Asian gazelles are herbivorous, feeding on leaves, grasses, and other plant materials. This diet varies seasonally and regionally, depending on the availability of vegetation. Gazelles live in groups, although the size and composition of these groups can vary widely among species and within populations.