Thomson’s Gazelle

The next time you are on safari in northern Tanzania or adjacent southern Kenya in east Africa, don’t be alarmed when you guide says that he has spotted a “Tommy”; he is merely referring to the Thompson’s Gazelle Eudorcas thomsonii.

Thomson’s Gazelle

It is a beautiful, small, fleet-footed antelope with pale yellowish-fawn to reddish-fawn upperparts, a dark lateral stripe and white underparts. It boasts a white eye ring and longish, ringed horns. Its black tail seems to be constantly in motion.

The Thomson’s Gazelle prefers open savannah grassland, especially when there is fresh green growth like after recent burns. Despite a very limited distribution range, Thomson’s Gazelles are Africa’s most abundant gazelle, with an estimated 500,000 individuals.

They normally form small herds of up to 60 animals, led by an old female and accompanied by a single mature male. They are diurnal and highly territorial, even though they often merge with other game species, as during the annual Great Migration.

The “Tommy” is named after the Scottish explorer Joseph Thomson (1858 – 1895) who played an important role in several African expeditions sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society.

Interestingly, because they can attain speeds of up to 96 kph (60 mph), it is almost only Cheetahs that prey on healthy, adult Thomson’s Gazelles.
Another interesting fact is that the Thomson’s Gazelle is the national animal of both Malawi and eSwatini (Swaziland), despite the fact that they don’t naturally occur there anymore.

Join one of our Tanzania Safaris and Tours to experience this wonderful safari destination with us.