Blackbuck herd springs with youthful vigour
The Blackbuck herd at Werribee Open Range Zoo is jumping for joy across the sprawling savannah this week, as five new youngsters find their place in the social order.
Werribee Open Range Zoo Savannah Keeper Gunther Venables said four doe and one buck, who were born into the herd in March, have been inspiring enthusiastic and playful displays among their peers.
“It’s so exciting to have five Blackbuck babies born into the herd this year,” Mr Venables said. “The young have integrated really well and we’re seeing a lot of play behaviour as they build strong relationships with each other and the older members of the herd.
“The young are slightly smaller than the adults and have lighter colourings, which distinguish them from the 28 other members of the herd.
Mr Venables said Blackbuck, a typically social species of antelope, use body language displays such as leaping or stotting as a primary means of herd communication.
“The leaping or stotting play behaviour indicates that the herd is calm,” Mr Venables said. “This behaviour is significantly different to a threat behaviour, when the whole herd becomes hyper vigilant of surroundings and take off in a sprint as a collective.”
Also known as Indian antelope, the tan-and-white coloured Blackbuck get their name from the distinct dark markings of dominant males.
Blackbuck numbers declined dramatically during the 20th century due to unsustainable hunting practices and habitat destruction. Thanks to conservation efforts, Blackbuck are now a protected species with growing populations in parks and reserves across the globe.
While Werribee Open Range Zoo is temporarily closed to members and visitors, animal lovers at home can stay connected with the Zoo’s lions through Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home.