How to see the only type of gazelle restricted to the Persian Gulf

The Bushehr gazelle, Gazella bennettii karamii, occurs in the Persian Gulf region of Iran. It is the westernmost form of a species which is more familiar in India, under the name chinkara. Another two subspecies occur elsewhere in Iran, going under the names eastern and western jebeer.

Although 'Indian gazelle' is used in inaturalist, Gazella bennettii is one of those species for which there is no overall common name.

Anyone curious to see what the Bushehr gazelle looks like is likely to be disappointed by any search in Google images under the common or scientific names of this animal. Because such searches yield no results, it is easy to assume that this form of gazelle is so obscure, rare and/or remote than nobody has yet posted any photo of it on the Web. But in fact there at least 30 photos on the Web, all of them so poorly labelled that one can only find them by following indirect clues.

The best of these can be seen at https://ifpnews.com/asian-black-bear-seen-in-southeastern-Pakistan and www.riverart.net/hormoz/notes/2010/index.htm.

The reason why there are any photos of the Bushehr gazelle on the Web is that it happens to be found, relatively tame, on two scorched, barren islands visited by tourists in the straits of Hormuz: Hormuz Island and Hengam Island. But nobody who has photographed it there seems to know, or care, about its identity other than the ignorant term 'deer'.

There are currently two photos of G bennetti karamii in inaturalist, but these are easily overlooked because they seem out of place. The Bushehr gazelle is disjunct from the main populations of its species in India, and looks like the sort of miniature of large mammals that typifies Arabia, on the other side of the Persian gulf.

If you search Google images under Hengam, Hormuz and deer, you will find a small, nondescript gazelle which looks like an unusually plain-coloured form of the dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) of the Sahara and the Negev. And you will have been enlightened by an internet which is full of novel and interesting photos but often buries them by poor labelling.

Posted by milewski milewski, November 13, 2020 05:05

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A photo has appeared in iNaturalist: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/71967103.

Posted by milewski 3 months ago (Flag)

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