Archivos de Diario para diciembre 2020

22 de diciembre de 2020

The Mongalla gazelle, an abundant but yet-to-be-photographed species

Unsurprisingly for such photogenic animals, there are many photos of the various species and subspecies of gazelles on the Web. Even in the case of those forms which are endangered with extinction, photos of captive-bred individuals are common. Perhaps the best example of this is the Arabian sand gazelle (Gazella marica), of which there are few if any photos in the wild but so many hundreds in enclosures that this is one of the photographically best-documented species of gazelle.

In view of the above, it would be natural to assume that if there are forms of gazelle for which there are virtually no photos of living specimens on the Web, these would be extinct (e.g. Gazella saudiya, Gazella rufina) or vanishingly rare with no captive representation. However, there is one glaring exception to this: the Mongalla gazelle (Eudorcas albonotata).

The Mongalla gazelle is one of the most abundant species of gazelles, with a total population rivalling that of the familiar Thomson's gazelle (Eudorcas thomsoni) of the Serengeti and elsewhere in Kenya and Tanzania. What is more, the Mongalla gazelle is one of the few species of mammals which still maintains, more or less, its ancestral pattern of seasonal movement over expansive savannas. And it is common in certain conservation areas (e.g. Boma National Park). However, I have so far been able to find only one photo of a living specimen on the Web, and this is too distant to show the animal clearly.

Is there any other form of large terrestrial animal on Earth which has such an extreme ratio between its incidence of photos on the Web and its abundance? My current estimate is one photo to about one quarter million living individuals.

The obvious reason for this extreme anomaly is that the Mongalla gazelle occurs only in South Sudan, a country so remote and risky that it has not yet proved practical to obtain photographs. This remains largely Darkest Africa in the twenty-first century. And the irony is that it is only because this country continues to lag so much in modern development that this gazelle - the exact appearance of which we are still left to imagine - remains in its wild state and numbers. In a sense, the price we naturalists have paid for the knowledge that there is still one truly wild gazelle out there is to be denied any clear images of it.

Anotado en 22 de diciembre de 2020 a las 09:20 AM por milewski milewski | 1 comentario | Deja un comentario