A blackbuck adult stag at the grasslands of Blackbuck National Park,velavadar ,Gujurat, India .

A graceful and slender species, the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is the only member of the genus Antilope. One of the blackbuck’s most striking features is the pair of long, spiralling horns possessed by the male, which are marked with rings and sweep backwards from the head in a v-shaped arrangement.

The male blackbuck is larger than the female and more conspicuously coloured, with the 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. This species has a narrow muzzle, short tail and pointed hooves.Young blackbucks resemble the female in colour, with the coat of the young male gradually darkening with age.

Biology Edit

A gregarious species, the blackbuck typically lives in herds of around 5 to 50 individuals, though herds of several hundred have been reported. These herds may contain both males and females, or may be comprised entirely of males, or made up of females and their offspring. The blackbuck is typically active throughout the day during the cooler months, but mainly in the morning and late afternoon when temperatures are high. It is primarily a grazer, feeding mainly on grasses, although other plants are taken depending on seasonal availability.

While mating may occur throughout they year, the blackbuck has reproductive peaks from March to April, and August to October. During this time, the males occupy territories which can vary both in size and their proximity to the neighbouring territory. In some populations, males defend large, scattered territories, while in others males gather into small, clustered territories and appear to use a lek mating system. It is thought that female group size may determine the mating strategy employed by the male blackbuck.

The female blackbuck gives birth to a single young after a gestation period of six months. In most antelope species, the young then remains hidden for the first few weeks, with the female returning periodically to suckle it. The blackbuck is predated upon by a number of species, including wolves and leopards, and relies mainly on its speed in order to escape. When a potential predator is sighted, the blackbuck can leap extraordinarily high into the air, before performing a number of smaller leaps and then galloping away at speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour. In the wild, the blackbuck has been known to live up to 18 years of age, with individuals in captivity surviving for even longer.

Range Edit

Native to Asia, the blackbuck once roamed throughout much of the Indian subcontinent. Today, this species occurs mainly in India, with a small population still existing in Nepal. It has been declared regionally extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

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