B4

A graceful and slender antelope, the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is mainly a grassland and open forest dweller. It is endemic to the Indian subcontinent, and today found in India and Nepal. It is believed to be locally extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where once it was found.

Description

The pair of long, spiraling horns of the male, marked with rings and sweep backwards from the head in a v-shaped arrangement, is the most striking feature of this antelope. The male blackbuck is larger than the female and more conspicuously coloured. Its coat being a rich dark brown along the back, sides and the outsides of the legs. The coat of the female is yellowish-brown on the head and along the back. Both sexes are white on the underside and insides of the legs, and have a white ring around each eye. Young males resemble the female in colour, and their coats gradually darkens with age.

Habits

It is a gregarious species, the blackbuck typically lives in herds of around 5 to 50 individuals, though larger herds have been reported. The blackbuck is active throughout the day during the cooler months of winter, but mainly in the morning and late afternoon when temperatures are high in the summers. It is primarily a grazer, feeding mainly on grasses, although other plants are taken depending on seasonal availability.

Predators

The blackbuck is predated upon by a number of species, chief predators are wolves and leopards, with whom they share their habitat.  They rely mainly on their speed in order to escape from the predator. Today feral dogs are also one of the major threats to this animal.

Conservation

Hunting of this species is now strictly forbidden under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 . It is also listed on Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning trade in this species should be regulated. The blackbuck is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.