Dibatag; Clarke's gazelle

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Ammodorcas clarkei (Thomas, 1891)

French: La Gazelle de Clarke; Le Dibatag
German: Dibatag; Lamagazelle; Stelzengazelle
Spanish: Gacela de Clark

Regional endemic subspecies

There are no endemic subspecies described.


Total length: 152 - 186 cm
Tail length: 30 - 36 cm
Shoulder height: 80 - 88 cm
Weight: (m) 28 - 35 kg; (f) 22 - 29 kg
Gestation: ~ 6 - 7 months

A very tall, slender antelope with large eyes, long, black-tipped ears and a face with typical gazelline markings down an elongated but sharply tapered muzzle. The mouth, teeth and jaws are minuscule. The have shortish horns with heavy, annulated bases and tips that are sharply angled forward. The horns are absent in the female.
Its name means "erect tail" in Somali and the heavily furred black tail, carried like a waggling baton, is indeed its most conspicious feature. During flight the tail and head are carried erect which distinguishes this species from the gerenuk, which adopts a more horizontal posture. The body colour is a uniform fawn grey, with ochre-coloured long legs and a red forehead. The undersides and brow stripe are white and the long buttock hair can be flared out into a brilliant white signal. There are preorbital glands and glandular "brushes" below the knees.


The Dibatag is restricted to a single vegetation type in central Somalia and E Ethiopia the (Ogaden, Somali region). Here it prefers areas of well-drained, sandy soils, fairly open thorn bush country. It avoids dense thickets and very stony ground.


It lives single or in groups of 3-9 individuals. While feeding the Dibatag may stand on its hind legs with their fore feet against a branch, like the Gerenuk. Dibatags are browsers, which feed for preference on bushes, acacia and Commiphora trees. They also feed on berries (Solanum) and to some extent graze when gras is available. These antelopes are very shy and alert. Dibatags move around a great deal with a flexible structure of their home range.

Conservation Status

This species has lost at least half of its known recent range and probably occupies a much smaller fraction of its original area of distribution. There are two or three remaining pockets where it remains fairly common but poaching, bush clearing and displacement by domestic stock makes continued decline likely. Proposed conservation areas at Hobyo (Obbia), Haradere-Awale Rugno in Somalia and E Ogaden in Ethiopia must await more peaceful times to be implemented. Listed as vulnerable (IUCN).

IUCN - Red List Category, ver 3.1:

Size of the wild populations unknown. Still occurs in Ethiopia (Ogaden). The surviving population of the Dibatag is unknown there, but is clearly not large. The species should be considered as vulnerable or regionally endangered. Somali population may have suffered badly during the past decades. There is no recent and no reliable information about the occurrence of the Dibatag in Djibouti. If at all, a relic population may exist in the south-eastern part of this country.

Ex situ programs/Collection plans:

There are no individuals kept in an ex situ program.

EAZA RCP status:

  • not listed/not recommended

AZA RCP status:

  • In situ focus, ISF, Martha Fischer, Saint Louis Zoo


There are no protected areas within its range. Establishment of a captive-breeding population has been proposed. There is urgency in initiationg conservation action in those parts of its range where this is feasible, e.g., the southern Ogaden. Negative factors continue to impact on the species and its status is likely to detoriate unless these can be mitigated.


AZA Antelope and Giraffe TAG Regional Collection Plan (2008): 5th Edition, December 2008: 170 pp.

Dougherty N (2004): Among nomads and Dibitags. Swara, Apr-Jun 2004: 56-57.

Dorst J & Dandelot P (1970): Larger Mammals of Africa, Collins Field Guide, London.

Groves C & Grubb P (2011): Ungulate Taxonomy, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore: 155-156.

Haltenorth T & Diller H (1997): Saeugetiere Afrikas und Madagaskars, BLV Verlagsgesellschaft, Muenchen.

Heckel J-O & Rayaleh HA (2008): Status of wild ungulates in Djibouti. Report in Woodfine T & Wacher T: Ninth Annual Sahelo-Saharan Interest Group meeting, 19-24. 

Kingdon J (1997): The Kingdon Field Guide To African Mammals, Academic Press, San Diego.

Wilhelmi F (1998): Ground survey on wildlife in the Ogaden Region. Gnusletter, 1: 13-14.

Wilhelmi F, Kaariye HY & Hammer S (2007): Das Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation Dibatag-Projekt, Beobachtungen in der Region Ogaden, Südost-Äthiopien. ZGAP Mitteilungen, 1: 9-12.

Wilhelmi F, Kaariye XY, Hammer S, Hammer C & Heckel J-O (2006): ON THE STATUS OF WILD UNGULATES IN THE OGADEN REGION OF ETHIOPIA. Proceedings of the seventh annual SSIG meeting, 43-62.

Wilson DE & Reeder DM (2005): Mammal species of the world - A taxonomic and geographic reference. Third Ed., Vol. 1. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.



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