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The Blackbuck (also known as the Indian Antelope) is one of the smallest and fastest members of the antelope family. The male stands approximately 80 centimetres at the shoulder, while the females are smaller. It is easy to spot the male in the herd as they are much darker than the yellowish-fawn coloured females. The chocolate brown to black males also have long, spiralled horns while the females do not have horns at all. Both males and females have bright white underbellies, inner legs and white rings around their eyes.
Found in herds of 5 to 50 individuals, Blackbuck were once widespread and found across almost all of the Indian subcontinent. Their range decreased sharply during the 20th century and they are now extinct in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. The main threats include destruction of habitat as a result of human population growth, competition with increasing numbers of domestic livestock, hunting and economic development. Despite being fully protected by law in India, the Blackbuck is still sometimes hunted illegally. As a result of these threats, the Blackbuck is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN).
Blackbuck are primarily grazers, inhabiting grassland and lightly forested areas and are diurnal (active mainly during the day). They require water every day, so need to live in areas with fresh water bodies. Herds tend to create their own territory, only moving on when food or water becomes scarce.
- Blackbuck are one of the fastest antelope species, reaching speeds of up to 80 kilometres per hour.
- The Blackbuck is the only surviving species of the genus ‘Antilope’. Their ancestors (including the Antilope intermedius, Antilope subtorta, and Antilope planicornis) are all extinct.
- Blackbuck’s horns can grow up to 70cm in length, which is very impressive considering their shoulder height averages 74-84cm!
- The female Blackbuck gives birth to a single calf after a gestation of six months. Like many antelope species, the young remains hidden in vegetation for the first few weeks of its life with the mother returning periodically so it can suckle.
- Werribee Open Range Zoo
- Healesville Sanctuary
- Melbourne Zoo