Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra):
is an endangered species of antelope found mainly in India, but also in parts of Pakistan and Nepal. There are also introduced populations in various parts of the world including numerous ranches in Texas in the United States of America; free-ranging populations also exist in Argentina and in southern Australia
The blackbuck, is the provincial animal of the Punjab (Pakistan) and in the Republic of India, it is known as Krishna Jinka in the Telugu language, has been declared the state animal of Andhra Pradesh. Other local names for the species include Kala hiran, Sasin, Iralai Maan, Krishna Mriga in Kannada and Kalveet in Marathi. It is often simply called Indian antelope though this term might also be used for other Antilopinae from the region.
Body Length: 100-150 cm / 3.3-5 ft.
Shoulder Height: 60-85 cm / 2-2.8 ft.
Tail Length: 10-17 cm / 4-6.8 in.
Weight: 25-35 kg / 55-77 lb.
The distinctive horns of the Blackbuck are ringed with 1 to 4 spiral turns, rarely more than 4 turns, and can be as long as 28 inches (79cm). A trophy Blackbuck is 18+ inches. In the male, the upper body is black (dark brown), and the belly and eye rings are white. The light-brown female is usually hornless. Blackbucks usually roam the plains in herds of 15 to 20 animals with one dominant male.
On the open plain, the Blackbuck is one of the fastest animals and can outrun most predators over long distances. Its chief predator was the now extinct Indian Cheetah. It is now sometimes preyed upon by wolves, feral dogs, etc.
The diet of the Blackbuck consists mostly of grasses, although it does eat pods, flowers and fruits to supplement its diet. The maximum life span recorded is 16 years and the average is 12 years.
Originally spread over large tracts of India (except in North East India). Today the Blackbuck population is confined to areas in Maharashtra,Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka with a few small pockets in Central India. Its original habitat is open plain and not dense jungles.
Several species of Indian deer and antelope were brought to the United States, specifically Texas, during the early part of the 20th century for the purpose of hunting and breeding. Some of these included Blackbuck, Axis Deer, or Chital Deer as they are called in India, Barasingha, and Nilgai. These species, plus many others, can now be found on private hunting ranches and freely roaming the Hill Country and surroundings areas in Texas. Game ranch raised blackbucks are so thriving and plentiful that specimens were shipped from Texas to India in order to repopulate certain areas. In 2007, a blackbuck hunt in U.S.A. for a male trophy ranged in price from $750 – $2,500 USD depending on quality and outfitter.
The main threats to the species are: Poaching, Predation, Habitat destruction, Overgrazing, Diseases, Inbreeding and Sanctuary visitors
Large herds once roamed freely on the plains of North India, where they thrived best, but no longer. During the eighteenth, nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, Blackbuck was the most hunted wild animal all over India. Until India’s independence, many princely states used to hunt this antelope and Indian gazelle, the Chinkara with specially trained pet Asiatic Cheetah.
The Blackbuck is hunted for its flesh and its skin. Although Indian law strictly prohibits the hunting of these endangered animals, there are still occasional incidents of poaching. The remaining populations are under threat from inbreeding. The natural habitat of the Blackbuck is being encroached upon by man’s need for arable land and grazing ground for domesticated cattle. Exposure to domesticated cattle also renders the Blackbuck exposed to bovine diseases.