The Blackbuck also known as the Indian antelope, is an antelope found in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The blackbuck is the sole extant member of the genus Antilope.Alternative names for the blackbuck are “Indian antelope”, kadiyal, kala hiran, ಕೃಷ್ಣ ಮೃಗ(Kannada) and Krishnasaar (in Hindi), krishna jinka (in Telugu); and iralai maan (in Tamil).
The blackbuck is a moderately sized antelope. It stands up to 74 to 84 cm (29 to 33 in) high at the shoulder; the head-to-body length is nearly 120 cm (47 in).males weigh 20–57 kilograms , an average of 38 kilograms. Females are lighter, weighing 20–33 kilogramsor 27 kilograms on an average.
The long, ringed horns, that resemble corkscrews, are generally present only on males, though females may develop horns as well.The white fur on the chin and around the eyes is in sharp contrast with the black stripes on the face. The coat of males shows two-tone colouration: while the upper parts and outsides of the legs are dark brown to black, the underparts and the insides of the legs are all white. Darkness typically increases as the male ages. On the other hand, females and juveniles are yellowish fawn to tan.Blackbucks change their colour from black during monsoon to brown during spring.
The blackbuck is a active mainly during the day. Three kinds of groups, typically small, are the female, male and bachelor herds. The blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and slightly forested areas. Due to their regular need of water, they prefer areas where water is perennially available.
According to mythological texts blackbucks were the employed in the chariots of Lord Krishna. In Sanskrit texts, blackbucks are called “Krushna Mrug” (black deer). They are also considered the vehicles of Vayu (the wind god) and Chandra (the moon god).
Blackbucks, known for their soft coat and characteristic twisted horns, are very “nervous by nature and sometimes just die of cardiac arrest only in the face of a perceived danger.
Threats and Endangered species
Blackbucks are an “extremely vulnerable species” and on the “endangered list in India, afforded the highest protection under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972”.
During the 20th century, blackbuck numbers declined sharply due to excessive hunting, deforestation and habitat degradation. Until India’s independence in 1947, blackbuck and chinkara were hunted in many princely states with specially trained captive Asiatic cheetahs.
Some communities like Bishnois of Rajasthan and Haryana worship the animal.Blackbucks are considered sacred animal in Nepal as well. In Karnataka can be seen in Ranibennur Blackbuck Sanctuary.