The blackbuck is a species of antelope with slender and elegant body. The blackbucks have pointed and delicate hooves. They possess narrow, sheep-like muzzle and short tail. Horns are found only in males. Coloration of this species depends on the gender: the back, the sides and the outer side of the legs are rich dark brown in males and yellowish in females. Both males and females have white under parts including the insides of the legs as well as a white ring around their eyes. During their lives, male blackbucks gradually become darker. The horns of males are ringed at the base, twisted in a spiral with up to four turns.
The main area of their habitat is India and eastern Pakistan. Generally, these animals tend to be found near grasslands. They are widespread in open woodlands, semi-deserts and dry deciduous forests.
Habits and lifestyle
Blackbucks are social animals, living in herds that include from 5 to 50 individuals. The herd of blackbucks is a harem by its structure: it consists of an adult male and numerous females with their young. In the cool season, the blackbucks are diurnal while during the hot season, they spend most of the day resting in shady areas, being active mainly in the morning and late afternoon. They are very cautious and shy. Although they lack strong sense of smell or hearing, they have good eyesight, which helps them detect dangers and react on time. When a blackbuck is in danger, it jumps in the air and runs away, followed by the whole herd.
herd, cluster, tribe
Diet and nutrition
Being herbivores, blackbucks feed upon fruits, flowers, herbs, shrubs, pods as well as grasses
They have polygynous mating system, where one male mates with more than one female. During the rut, the male establishes its own territory, aggressively defending it from other males of the area. Rutting males give out loud grunts and fight each other, using their horns. The blackbucks mate all year round while the peak of rutting season is March-April and August-October. After gestation period of 6 months, the female gives birth to a single baby. The baby blackbuck is able to run shortly after birth. Then, over a year, the young lives with its mother. Males reach sexual maturity at 3 years old while females – a bit earlier, at 2 years old.
Year-round, peak is in March-April and in August-October
One of the most serious threats to this species’ population is the destruction of habitat. At the moment, much of their original habitat has been destructed by humans, turned into agricultural areas. Moreover, near farming areas, these animals are frequently killed by local people because of raiding crops. In addition, blackbucks attract hunters for their meat and, primarily, for their majestic horns.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population of blackbucks is around 50,000 individuals. The IUCN has listed this species as Near Threatened (NT) though the population is currently stable.
These animals are important plant consumers of the ecosystem of their habitat. On the other hand, they themselves are prey for a number of predators such as leopards, wolves and cheetahs.
Fun facts for kids
- The blackbucks use a wide variety of sounds as a mean of communication. For instance, they use dik-diks whistle, which represents warning or anxiety.
- Other means of communication include scent signals that can persist for days. Individuals, living in herds, have glands in their hooves that leave scent tracks when they move. This way of communication helps separated animals find their herds, following the scent track.
- Posture and movements are good indicators of blackbucks’ mood. For example, they pronk – leap in the air with stretched out back and stiff legs - when alarmed or excited.
- These animals are extremely cautious, having so-called “flight distance” – a distance that will allow them to notice a predator and run away before the attack. They have different flight distances for different predators: longer distance for a cheetah while shorter - for a lion, which is slower.