The Iranian gazelle (Gazella shikarii) as a possible new species in its genus

@michalsloviak @simontonge @capracornelius

There is a type of gazelle (genus Gazella) in Iran, which may deserve to be recognised as a species of its own.

I suggest

  • the scientific name Gazella shikarii and the subspecies names Gazella shikarii shikarii and Gazella shikarii karamii, and
  • the common names Iranian gazelle (for the species), Kavir gazelle (for subspecies shikarii, which is restricted to the edges of the Kavir Desert), and Bushehr gazelle (for subspecies karamii, which is restricted to the semi-deserts near the Persian Gulf).

As at November 2020, there are only three photos of this postulated species in iNaturalist, viz.

  • one of a dead specimen of the Kavir gazelle, and
  • two of living adult males of the Bushehr gazelle.

However, there are dozens of photos, some of them excellent, of the Kavir gazelle on the Web, which can be sought under 'jebeer', 'gebeer', 'kavir', 'turan' and 'naybandan'.

I have been able to open the following: and and and and and and and and

There is a good photo 'jebeer gazelle' by Fallahzadeh Wildlife Photography in

The website also contains several photos of 'gebeer' which I cannot open.

Current thinking among taxonomists has been to lump the Iranian gazelle into the Indian gazelle (Gazella bennettii).

However, this is unsatisfactory for several reasons.

Firstly, the Iranian gazelle looks as similar to the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) of Africa as it does to the Indian gazelle.

Secondly, Groves and Grubb (2011) found no intermediates with Gazella bennettii where the ranges abut in Eastern Iran.

This lack of intermediates is despite the two subspecies of the Iranian gazelle being contiguous with the Indian gazelle (which is called 'eastern jebeer' in Iran), while being separated from each other by the main mountain chain of Iran.

The Kavir gazelle can be recognised by a combination of the following features.

  • The horns of males bow outwards more than in the Indian gazelle, while the horns of females are remarkably long.
  • The ears are proportionately larger than in the other gazelles of Iran.
  • There is less banding of the flank than in any other gazelle.
  • The pale ventral part of the torso is white, not smudged as in both the Indian gazelle and the goitred gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) of Iran.
  • The dark spot on the front of the face is hardly noticeable.
  • There is surprising uniformity of colouration, in contrast to the obvious individual variation found in most other types of gazelle.

It is likely that the taxonomic status of gazelles will continue to be argued, this way or that.

However, I offer naturalists a refreshed search image.

Recognising the distinctiveness of the Iranian gazelle may help it to be brought to the full light that such a graceful antelope deserves - beyond its current main interest as one of the few prey species remaining for the endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) in Iran.

Publicado el noviembre 27, 2020 09:25 TARDE por milewski milewski


Apparently Acinonyx jubatus venaticus is functionally extinct.

Publicado por paradoxornithidae hace casi 2 años

Interesting, unfortunately the political situation in Iran prevents much research into this Gazella taxa, which may (as it’s suggested by your keen eye) be of novel affinity, taxonomically.

Publicado por paradoxornithidae hace casi 2 años

Have only occasionally been paying attention to the Iranian gazelles (non-subgutturosa). I could never make a connection to Gazella dorcas from what I have seen in alive individuals and therefore never could relate to a paper on morphology and relatedness authored by Groves (et al ? - mainly they were filling sand into the cranial cavities and measuring volumes).
However central and eastern individuals to me looked like bennetti, whereas western and northern more like Gazella gazella.
So I contemplated Iran being a secondary contact zone of G. bennetti and G. gazella with intergrades. Perhaps G. gazella and G. bennetti could be considered conspecific anyways, but speciation in gazelles is truly complex and hybridisation may play a big role beyond the limits of closest related taxa.
Southern and insular Iranian gazelles of the Gulf region are certainly complex, too. But maybe for different reasons (early human interventions?)
I admit and it is obvious I am naive in ignorant here, just wanted to give an initial instinctive feedback to your post (which this time I found difficult to wrap my head around. It seemed a little confused and didn't help me much in my very own confusion if I may say so.)

Publicado por capracornelius hace casi 2 años

Yes, a possibility of the iranian gazelles being a result of hybridization is a distinct possibility.

Publicado por paradoxornithidae hace casi 2 años

Many thanks for your comment. I am sure I could improve the clarity of my commentary on this topic, and maybe I should reexamine the entity in question (I wrote this Post nearly two years ago). I wonder whether there is now more, or less, photographic material available on the Web.

Publicado por milewski hace casi 2 años

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