Changes in Habitat Structure May Explain Decrease in Reintroduced Mohor Gazelle Population in the Guembeul Fauna Reserve, Senegal

Animals (Basel). 2012 Aug 8;2(3):347-60. doi: 10.3390/ani2030347.


Reintroduction is a widespread method for saving populations of endangered species from extinction. In spite of recent reviews, it is difficult to reach general conclusions about its value as a conservation tool, as authors are reluctant to publish unsuccessful results. The Mohor gazelle is a North African gazelle, extinct in the wild. Eight individuals were reintroduced in Senegal in 1984. The population grew progressively, albeit slowly, during the first 20 years after release, but then declined dramatically, until the population in 2009 was estimated at no more than 13-15 individuals. This study attempts to determine the likelihood of gazelle-habitat relationships to explain why the size of the gazelle population has diminished. Our results show that the Mohor gazelle in Guembeul is found in open habitats with less developed canopy where the grass is shorter, suggesting the possibility that changes in habitat structure have taken place during the time the gazelles have been in the Reserve, reducing the amount of suitable habitat. Reintroduction design usually concentrates on short-term factors that may affect survival of the released animals and their descendants (short-term achievement), while the key factors for assessing its success may be those that affect the long-term evolution of the population.

Keywords: Nanger dama mhorr; Senegal; evaluation of reintroduction; habitat structure; post release monitoring.