Speke’s gazelle is restricted to a discontinuous range in the Somali highlands and a limited area of east Ethiopia (Wilson & Reeder, 1993; East, 1996). Although its distribution map was first drawn from the two maps in East (1988), the output did account for the rapid extinction of the species; Dr. R. East, who made the final revision ( 23 June '97 ), suggested marking the whole range as "possible"
Categorical-discrete (CD) distribution model
The species occurs in open grassland and steppe (Funaioli, 1971; East, 1988; Kingdon, 1997). Speke's gazelles graze on grass, herbs, shrubs and other plants. They can often survive a long time without water -- a useful adaptation in their dry habitat.
Male and female Speke's gazelles have a tan back, accented by a white underside and rump, and dark bands on the side. Both sexes have S-shaped horns with upward-curving tips. The horns of the males are noticeably larger and broader than those of the females. The fawn or light tan coloured upper coat is separated from the white belly by a black flank stripe, which generally has a lighter band above it. The white undersides encompass the buttocks, as well as the insides of the legs. One of the first things you notice about this graceful little antelope is its big nose! The Speke's gazelle's "schnozz" actually has an important purpose: it is partly responsible for the animal's loud alarm call. By inflating the loose skin on the top of its muzzle, the gazelle can increase the volume of its call, which resembles a honking sound. Both sexes carry the horns although, like most gazelles, those in females are significantly smaller and thinner. In males they may grow 25-31 cm / 10-12.4 inches in length, curving backwards in an "S". Much straighter and steeper in females, they may grow 15-25 cm / 6-10 long.
Like most dwellers in a hot and dry environment, Speke's gazelle is primarily active in the early morning and evening, resting during the heat of the day. As mentioned in the description, this gazelle has a sac on its nose which is inflated when the gazelle is excited. The signature call of the Speke's gazelle - a loud, gunshot-like sneeze - is thought to be amplified by this makeshift resonance chamber. Muscles surrounding the preorbital glands dispense secretions during periods of heightened excitement.
When they are excited or alarmed, Speke's gazelles use a "pronk" behavior, a combination of running, bouncing, and jumping.
Speke's gazelles live up to 12 years in the wild. There are currently no protected areas within the range of Speke's gazelles. The conservation status of this species is expected to decline further in the absence of protection and management of wild populations and their habitat.
Captain J. H. Speke (1827-1864) was an explorer of Central Africa.
Speke's gazelles used to range in large numbers through parts of Somalia and Ethiopia. In fact, in the 1980's, they were one of the most widespread and abundant of the Somali gazelles. But now they have become extinct or severely reduced over a large part of their original range.