Mammalian Biology

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 226–230 | Cite as

Latrine survey as a method to estimate the population size of Arabian gazelles (Gazella arabica)

  • Torsten WronskiEmail author
  • M. Zafar-ul Islam
  • Martin Plath
Short Communication


Arabian gazelle (Gazella arabica) populations have been decimated in most parts of their original range. As a cryptic, crepuscular species, Arabian gazelles are difficult to observe, rendering monitoring programs for conservation purposes a challenging endeavour. Latrine mapping has been suggested as an effective, time- and cost-efficient tool to survey and estimate the abundance of gazelles in remote areas with low population densities. In the present study we collected data from five populations in Saudi Arabia to address the question of how population estimates can be inferred from such latrine counts and uncovered a non-linear relationship between both variables. Methodologies applied during the five surveys differed between study sites, so caution is required when interpreting our data. Still, given the immediate threat to the survival of the species, there is an urgent need to establish a time- and cost-efficient sampling method that will be vital for the conservation of remnant pockets of natural populations and for the proclamation of new protected areas in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, and the present data are the only available source of information in this context.


Population estimate Localised defecation Road strip count Desert ungulate Habitat fragmentation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Averbeck, C., 2001. Integrating Rural Communities and Wildlife Conservation in Uganda. Sustainable Use as a Viable Solution. Tropenökologisches Begleitprogramm (TÖB), GTZ, Eschborn, Germany.Google Scholar
  2. Bothma, J., du, P., 2002. Game Ranch Management. Van Schaik Publishers, Pretoria.Google Scholar
  3. Breuer, T., Mavinga, F.B., Breuer-Ndoundou Hockemba, M., 2012. Dung decay and its implication for population estimates of duikers (Cephalophus and Philantoba spp.) and red river hogs (Potamochaerus porcus) in the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. Gnusletter 30 (1), 17.Google Scholar
  4. Buckland, S.T., Anderson, D.R., Burnham, K.P., Laake, J.L., Borchers, D.L., Thomas, L., 2001. Introduction to Distance Sampling: Estimating Abundance of Biological Populations. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  5. Child, G., Grainger, J., 1990. A System Plan for Protected Areas for Wildlife Conservation and Sustainable Rural Development in Saudi Arabia. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, Riyadh.Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, D., Swanson, G.M., Sales, J., 2004. Methodological insights: comparing the precision and cost-effectiveness of faecal pellet group count methods. J. Appl. Ecol. 41 (6), 1185–1196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cunningham, P.L., Wronski, T., 2009. Farasan Island Survey – June 2009. Determining Farasan Gazelle (Gazella gazella farasani) Numbers on Farasan Kebir and As Saqid Islands. KKWRC Report to SWA, Thumamah.Google Scholar
  8. Dunham, K., 1997. Gazelles and oryx in Saudi Arabia. Re-Introduction News 13, 5–6.Google Scholar
  9. Dunham, K., 1998. Spatial organization of mountain gazelles Gazella gazalla reintroduced to central Saudi Arabia. J. Zool. Lond. 245, 371–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dunham, K., 1999. The social organisation of mountain gazelles Gazella gazella in a population reintroduced to central Arabia. J. Arid Environ. 43, 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dunham, K.M., Williamson, D.T., Joubert, E., 2001. Saudi Arabia. In: Mallon, D.P., Kingswood, S.C. (Eds.), Antelopes, Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. IUCN Global Survey and Regional Action Plan, Gland, pp. 55–62.Google Scholar
  12. El Alqamy, H., 2011. Distance Sampling for Dorcas Gazelle Monitoring in Sinai, Egypt. Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrücken.Google Scholar
  13. Essghaier, F.A., Johnson, R., 1981. Distribution and use of dung heaps by dorcas gazelle in western Libya. Mammalia 45, 153–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Flamand, J.R.B., Thouless, C.R., Tatwany, H., Asmodé, J.F., 1988. Status of the gazelles of the Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia. Mammalia 52 (4), 608–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ghandour, A.M., 1989. Terrestrial mammals threatened with extinction in Saudi Arabia. In: Abuzinada, A.H., Goriup, P.D., Nader, I.A. (Eds.), Wildlife Conservation and Development in Saudi Arabia. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, Riyadh, pp. 234–236.Google Scholar
  16. Gosling, M., 1985. The even-toed ungulates: order Artiodactyla. In: Brown, R.E., MacDonald, D.W. (Eds.), Social Odors in Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 550–618.Google Scholar
  17. Harrison, D.L., Bates, P.J.J., 1991. The Mammals of Arabia, second ed. Harrison Zoological Museum Publication, Kent, UK.Google Scholar
  18. Islam, M.Z., Boug, A., Sher Shah, M., Khoja, A., Chukkan, M.B., 2008. Evaluation of Ungulates, Vegetation, Avifauna and Weather Conditions of Uruq Bani Ma-arid Protected Area. National Wildlife Research Centre Annual Report, Taif.Google Scholar
  19. Islam, Z.M., Wacher, T., Boug, A., Wronski, T., 2011. Population development of re-introduced mountain gazelle in the western Empty Quarter (Uruq Bani Ma’arid Protected Area), Saudi Arabia. In: Soorae, P.S. (Ed.), Global Reintroduction Perspectives: 2011. Additional Case Studies from Around the Globe IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group (RSG), Abu Dhabi, UAE, pp. 180–184.Google Scholar
  20. IUCN/SSG, 1998. IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions. IUCN/SSG Re-Introduction Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  21. IUCN, 2011. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, Version 2011. Scholar
  22. Kosters, S.H., Hart, J.A., 1988. Methods of estimating ungulate population in tropical forests. Afr. J. Ecol. 26, 117–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lawes, M.J., Nanni, R.F., 1993. The density, habitat use and social organisation of dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas) in Makhtesh Ramon, Negev Desert, Israel. J. Arid Environ. 24, 177–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lerp, H., Wronski, T., Butynski, T.M., Plath, M., 2012. Speciation of Arabian gazelles. In: Pawel, M. (Ed.), Speciation: Natural Processes, Genetics and Biodiversity. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY, in press.Google Scholar
  25. Lunt, N., Bowkett, A.E., Plowman, A.B., 2006. Implications of assumption violation in density estimates of antelope from dung-heap counts: a case study on grey duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia) in Zimbabwe. Afr. J. Ecol. 45, 382–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Magin, C.D., Greth, A., 1994. Distribution, status and proposals for the conservation of mountain gazelles Gazella gazella cora in the southwest of Saudi Arabia. Biol. Conserv. 70, 69–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mallon, D.P., Kingswood, S.C., 2001. Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. IUCN Global Survey and Regional Action Plan, Gland.Google Scholar
  28. Marques, F.C., Buckland, S.T., Goffin, D., Dixon, C.E., Borchers, D.L., Mayle, B.A., Peace, A.J., 2001. Estimating deer abundance from line transect surveys of dung: Sika deer in southern Scotland. J. Appl. Ecol. 38, 349–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Martin, L., 2000. Gazelle (Gazella spp.) behavioural ecology: predicting animal behavior for prehistoric environments in south-west Asia. J. Zool. Lond. 259, 13–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Nader, I.A., 1989. Rare and endangered mammals of Saudi Arabia. In: Abuzinada, A.H., Goriup, P.D., Nader, I.A. (Eds.), Wildlife Conservation, Development in Saudi Arabia. National Commission for Wildlife Conservation, Development, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Google Scholar
  31. Norton-Griffiths, N., 1978. Counting animals. In: Handbook No. 1, Techniques Currently used in African Wildlife Ecology. Serengeti Ecological Monitoring Programme, African Wildlife Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya.Google Scholar
  32. Plumptre, J.A., Harris, S., 1995. Estimating the biomass of large mammalian herbivores in a tropical montane forest – a method of faecal counting that avoids assuming a steady state system. J. Appl. Ecol. 32, 111–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Putman, R.J., 1984. Facts from faeces. Mammal Rev. 14 (2), 79–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rovero, F., Marshall, A.R., 2004. Estimating the abundance of forest antelopes by line transect techniques: a case from the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania. Trop. Ecol. 17, 267–277.Google Scholar
  35. Strauss, M., Al Kharousi, Y., Spalton, A., 2009. Status of the mountain gazelle population in the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary of Oman. Wildl. Middle East News 3, 5.Google Scholar
  36. Strickland, M.D., Harju, H.J., McCaffery, K.R., Miller, H.W., Smith, L.M., Stoll, R.J., 1994. Harvest management. In: Bookhout, T.A. (Ed.), Research and Management Techniques for Wildlife and Habitats. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MD, USA, pp. 445–473.Google Scholar
  37. Stalling, D.H., Wolf, G.J., Crockett, D.K., 2002. Regulating the hunt. In: Toweill, D.E., Thomas, J.W. (Eds.), North American Elk: Ecology and Management. Smithonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 749–791.Google Scholar
  38. Sutherland, W.J., 1996. From Individual Behaviour to Population Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  39. Thomas, L., Laake, J.L., Strindberg, S., Marques, F.F.C., Buckland, S.T., Borchers, D.L., Anderson, D.R., Burnham, K.P., Hedley, S.L., Pollard, J.H., Bishop, J.R.B., Marques, T.A., 2005. Distance 5.0. Research Unit for Wildlife Population Assessment. University of St. Andrews, UK.Google Scholar
  40. Thouless, C.R., Grainger, J.G., Shobrak, M., Habibi, K., 1991. Conservation status of gazelles in Saudi Arabia. Biol. Conserv. 58, 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Truett, J.C., Zablan, M.A., Kunkel, K., 2005. Ecological impact assessments and habitat conservation plans. In: Braun, C.E. (Ed.), Techniques for Wildlife Investigations and Management. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MD, USA, pp. 503–523.Google Scholar
  42. Van Vliet, N., Nasi, R., Emmons, L., Feer, F., Mbazza, P., Bourgarel, M., 2007. Evidence for the local depletion of bay duiker, Cephalophus dorsalis, within the Ipassa Man and Biosphere Reserve, north-east Gabon. Afr. J. Ecol. 45, 440–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. VerCauteren, K.C., Dolbeer, R.A., Gese, E.M., 2005. Identification and management of wildlife damage. In: Braun, C.E. (Ed.), Techniques for Wildlife Investigations and Management. The Wildlife Society, Bethesda, MD, USA, pp. 740–778.Google Scholar
  44. Vesey-Fitzgerald, D.F., 1952. Wildlife in Arabia. Oryx 1, 232–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vincent, P., 2008. Saudi Arabia. An Environmental Overview. Taylor & Francis, London.Google Scholar
  46. Walther, F.R., Mungall, E.C., Grau, G.A., 1983. Gazelles and their Relatives. A Study in Territorial Behavior. Noyes Publications, Park Ridge, NJ, USA.Google Scholar
  47. Western, D., Grimsdell, J.J.R., 1979. Measuring the distribution of animals in relation to the environment. In: Handbook No. 2, Techniques Currently Used in African Wildlife Ecology. African Wildlife Foundation, Nairobi, Kenya.Google Scholar
  48. Wronski, T., 2010. Population density and home range size of re-introduced mountain gazelles (Gazella gazella) in relation to resource availability in the Ibex Reserve, Saudi Arabia. J. Arid Environ. 74, 1427–1434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wronski, T., Alageel, K., 2010. Farasan Island Survey – June 2010. Determining Farasan Gazelle (Gazella gazella farasani) Numbers on Farasan Kebir and As Saqid Islands. KKWRC Report to SWA, Thumamah.Google Scholar
  50. Wronski, T., Plath, M., 2009. Characterization of the spatial distribution of latrines in reintroduced mountain gazelles: do latrines demarcate female group home ranges? J. Zool. Lond. 280, 92–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wronski, T., Sandouka, M.A., Butynski, T.M., 2011. Twenty years conservation and monitoring of re-introduced mountain gazelle in the Ibex Reserve, Saudi Arabia. In: Soorae, P.S. (Ed.), Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2011. Additional Case Studies from Around the Globe. IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist group (RSG), Abu Dhabi, UAE, pp. 175–179.Google Scholar
  52. Wronski, T., Alageel, K., Plath, M., Sandouka, M.A., 2012. Twenty years monitoring re-introduced Mountain gazelles in the Ibex Reserve, Saudi Arabia. Zool. Middle East 55, 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wronski, T., Wacher, T., Hammond, R.L., Winney, B., Blacket, M.J., Hundertmark, K., Mohammed, O.B., Flores, B., Omer, S., Macasero, W., Plath, M., Tiedemann, R., Bleidorn, C., 2010. Two reciprocally monophyletic mtDNA lineages elucidate the taxonomic status of Mountain gazelles (Gazella gazella). System. Biodivers. 8, 119–129.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torsten Wronski
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Zafar-ul Islam
    • 3
  • Martin Plath
    • 4
  1. 1.Zoological Society of London, Conservation ProgramsLondonUK
  2. 2.King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre, Saudi Wildlife AuthorityRiyadhSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.National Wildlife Research Centre, Saudi Wildlife AuthorityTaifSaudi Arabia
  4. 4.Department of Ecology & EvolutionUniversity of FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

Personalised recommendations