Blackbuck

The Black Buck,(Antelope cervicapra) (Krishna Saar) is an endangered and fully protected species in Nepal. The adult male Black Buck has striking Black and white pelage (fur) and long spiral horns. Horns seldom exceed 50 cm and may reach 65 cm in Nepal. Young males, called bucks are light brown in color and after 3 years their pelage turns quite black. Females called does are beige in color and hornless. A well-grown buck stands about 32 inch (80 cm) at the shoulder and on the average weigh 40 kg. Black bucks are territorial, although they take occasional trips to surrounding terrain. The territoriality exhibited by the species is the result of the dominance shown by the adult males. Females do not make any territory of their own. Their habitat is open grass land with thorny and dry deciduous forest. They prefer ectonal region between the forest and grass land. They prefer to be in group ranging 15 – 20 individuals.

As other animal it is also a part of Nature and we need to conserve it for future generation. Black buck is one of 26 species of mammals, which have been declared endangered and protected by low in Nepal.

They like to live in open grassland and dry thorn and scrubland. They like to be in herds about 20 to 30 individuals. A herd generally inhabits around 200 to 300 acres of land. A dominant male marks the territory by shifting and pawing the ground and urinating and defecating at established piles.

Black buck are herbivore animals. They graze the soft grass and eat leaves, herbs and shrubs. The like to graze to vast area from the down to dust and take rest on shadow of the tree.

Mating season is August to October and March to April. Male buck performs proud heads-up displays (nose up and horns parallel to the back) to attract the attention of female does. Male engages in rutting behavior throughout the whole year. The rut consists of fighting and sparring between males with their horns. The spiral shape of horns automatically locks the horns together so rarely do the animals get hurt. The bucks do this as a form of play as well as to assert dominance and breeding privileges.

The keen eye sight and fast speed of Black Buck are its main protection against predators. When alarmed, the herd moves off in a series of high leaps and bounds, then breaks off into a quick gallop. It is one of the fastest animals in the world. The record shows that they can run 80 kilometer per hour if necessary.

Indian black buck is also known by a number of other names like Kala Hiran, Sasin, Iralai Maan and Krishna Jinka. The scientific name of the black buck antelope is Antilope cervicapra and it natural habitat is the Indian subcontinent. Grass forms the staple diet of the blackbucks. However, they do eat pods, flowers and fruits as supplements. The average lifespan of the Indian kala hiran is twelve years and at the maximum, they live for sixteen years. Black bucks are hunted by dogs and wolves.

The male black bucks grow to a height of 32 inches and weigh somewhere between 70 and 95 pounds. Their upper part is covered with either dark brown or black fur. Chest, belly, inner sides of the legs, muzzle and chin of the males have white fur. Even the eyes are surrounded with white rings. Male black bucks have ringed horns that are up to 28 inches in length and twirl with three to four turns. When the male blackbucks are born, they are light brown in color and as they reach the age of three, they turn dark brown or black.

Female black bucks are much smaller than their male counterparts. They are beige or light brown in color and most of the female blackbucks do not even have horns. Even the few females that have horns lack the rings and spirals that characterize the male horns. Black bucks have very sharp eyesight, which, along with their great speed, forms their main defense against the predators. Female black buck antelopes have a gestation period of approximately five months. They generally give birth to two fawns every year, at a gap of six months.

The fawn of black buck spends the first two weeks after his birth in the grass, between nursing. Only after completing the first two weeks does the fawn join the group. Indian black bucks seldom live in isolation, they are found mainly in groups. The groups can be either those of the females, comprising of 15 to 20 members, mixed groups, bachelor groups or territorial males. The group of territorial males dominates all the other groups and inhabits the main grazing areas, along with the female groups.

Apart from India, black buck is found in parts of Pakistan and Nepal. Initially in India, the blackbucks were found almost everywhere except for the northeastern regions. However, today the population of black bucks has become limited to parts of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat, along with a few areas in the Central India. Blackbucks have open plains of India as their natural habitat and count amongst the fastest running animals on earth.

They live on open grasslands, dry thorn and scrublands. Black bucks were introduced in various parts of the world, including a number of ranches in Texas, in the United States of America. There are also free-ranging populations of Indian black bucks in Argentina (Pampas in southern Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Entre Ríos provinces).

Black bucks are included in the list of endangered species in India as well as Nepal. Two major factors that have contributed to their declining population are poaching and habitat destruction.

Apart from poaching and habitat destruction, the other threats to blackbucks include predation, overgrazing, diseases, inbreeding and hoards of visitors. The flesh and skin of black buck fetches quite a high price in the market, making the animal extremely vulnerable to hunting. The species is suffering from inbreeding and at the same time, there is the wide scale encroachment by the humans. Once found easily in the plains of North India, they have now being restricted to a few pockets in the country.