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Thomson's Gazelle

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Thomson's gazelle, Tommie
Genus Species
Gazella (deer-like) thomsoni (scientific explorer)

Fast Facts

The Thomson's gazelle is a small gazelle with a white belly, a white rump patch that extends up to the tail, and a horizontal black side stripe.
Male: Males have ridged horns.
Female: Females have short and more often broken or deformed horns.
Male: 58 to 70 cm (23 to 28 in.)
Female: 58 to 64 cm (23 to 25 in.)
Male: 17 to 29 kg (37 to 64 lbs.)
Female: 13 to 24 kg (29 to 53 lbs.)
Grazers and browsers, diet includes shrubs and green grass
Female Thomson's gazelles usually give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 5.5 to 6 months. The calves remain hidden away from the mothers for a few weeks, with the mothers returning only to nurse. If food supplies are good, a female may conceive again within a couple of weeks of giving birth. Births take place year-round.
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 19 to 21 months
Life Span
10 to 15 years
Kenya and Tanzania
Inhabits grass plains
Global: Unknown
IUCN: Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

  1. Thomson's gazelles (called Tommies) live in buck or doe herds of up to 100 individuals, or mixed groups of up to 700.
  2. Thomson's gazelle, or Tommies are one of the three migratory species that make up the vast Serengeti migration. Like the zebra and the wildebeest, there may be in excess of 500,000 Tommies in the migration.
  3. Tommies are easily identified by their tail motion, it swings side to side like a windshield wiper.
  4. By eating the greenest grasses, Tommies get all the water they need during the rainy season, but migrate to find drinking water during dry periods.

Ecology and Conservation

Thomson's gazelles are an important food source for many predators, especially cheetahs and Cape hunting dogs. Predation on Tommies is always high; they are regular meals for lions, hyenas, wild dogs, and jackals. Smaller predators such as pythons and birds of prey will also eat the calves.

While most small gazelles are in decline, the Tommies' population is stable.

These animals are probably the most common and most commonly seen small gazelle in eastern Africa. Even though they are extremely common they have a fairly restricted range, being found on the open, shortgrass plains of Sudan, Kenya, and Tanzania.


Estes, R.D. The Safari Companion: A Guide to Watching African Mammals. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 1993.

Gotch, A.F. Mammals-Their Latin Names Explained. Poole, U.K.: Blandford Press Btd., 1979.

Nowak, R. (ed.). Walkers Mammals of the World. Vol. II, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Parker, S.P. (ed.). Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals: Vol. 5. New York: McGraw Hill Pub. Co., 1990.