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Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is a species of antelope found mainly in Indiamarker, and also in some parts of Pakistanmarker and Nepalmarker. There are also introduced populations in various parts of the world including numerous ranches in Texasmarker in the United States of Americamarker; free-ranging populations also exist in Argentinamarker and in southern Australia

The blackbuck, is the provincial animal of India it is known as Krishna Mriga in Kannada and Krishna Jinka in the Telugu language, has been declared the state animal of Andhra Pradeshmarker. Other local names for the species include Kala hiran, Sasin, Iralai Maan,and Kalveet in Marathi. It is often simply called Indian antelope though this term might also be used for other Antilopinae from the region.

Description

Blackbuck fleeing at Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, India
Blackbuck showing distinctive spiral horns


Body Length:

Shoulder Height:

Tail Length:

Weight:

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 . A trophy Blackbuck is greater than . 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.

There are four subspecies or geographic races
  • Antilope cervicapra cervicapra
  • Antilope cervicapra rajputanae
  • Antilope cervicapra centralis
  • Antilope cervicapra rupicapra


Albino Blackbucks
Albinism in Blackbucks is rare and caused by the lack of 'Melanin'. The animal looks fully white due to the lack of melanin in their skin. Wildlife experts say that the biggest problem with these Albinos is that they are singled out by predators and hunted.

Habitat

Originally spread over large tracts of India (except in North East India). Today the Blackbuck population is confined to areas in Maharashtramarker,Orissamarker, Punjabmarker, Rajasthanmarker, Haryanamarker, Gujaratmarker, Andhra Pradeshmarker, Tamil Nadumarker and Karnatakamarker 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.

Threats

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.

Conservation

Like most wild animals, the Blackbuck is in principle protected in India by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

Its protected status has gained publicity through a widely reported court case in which one of India's leading film stars, Salman Khan, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for killing two black bucks and several endangered chinkaras. The arrest was prompted by intense protests from the Bishnoi ethnic group, which holds animals and trees sacred, and on whose land the hunting had taken place.

In another notorious incident of criminal poaching, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi also killed a Blackbuck, and then absconded as a fugitive. He finally surrendered only when the case was transferred from the criminal court to a Special Environment court, where he would face lighter sentencing.

Fortunately, the blackbuck population is stable with 50,000 native individuals, plus an additional 43,000 descended from individuals introduced to Texasmarker and Argentinamarker. The species can be seen in zoos.



As a Near threatened mammal, the Blackbuck species are safe in several Protected areas of India, including:

Mythology

According to the Hindu mythology Blackbuck or Krishna Jinka is considered as the vehicle (vahana) of the Moon-goddess Chandrama.

According to the Garuda Purana of Hindu Mythology, Krishna Jinka bestows prosperity in the areas where they live.

Gallery

Image:Antilope cervicapra2.jpgImage:Antilope cervicapra4.jpgImage:Antilope cervicapra kwh.jpgImage:Blackbuck Antelope.jpgImage:Hirschziegenantilope2.JPGImage:Hirschziegenantilope-w.JPGImage:Antilope cervicapra1.jpgImage:Antilope cervicapra3.jpgImage:BlackbuckAntelope1.jpgImage:Blackbuc001.jpgImage:Female-Backbuck-in-Satpura-National-Park-by-Lovleet.JPGImage:Aa Knowsley Safari Park 2007 04 26 blackbuck trimmed.jpg|2 young male blackbuck fighting, at the Knowsley Safari Parkmarker

References

  1. Menon, R. K. (2000) "The quintessential antelope—life of the blackbuck", Resonance—Journal of Science Education, 5(11): 69-79.
  2. http://www.ultimateungulate.com/Artiodactyla/Antilope_cervicapra.html
  • Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/3017.shtml
  • Link: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020525/windows/main3.htm



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