winter CLOSURE

The Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche (Haute-Touche Animal Reserve) will reopen on April 3, 2021.

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Antilope cervicapre © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Blackbuck

The blackbuck, or Indian antelope, Antilope cervicapra, has long been one of the most commonplace herbivores on the Indian peninsula. It has disappeared from Pakistan, Bangladesh and only survives in India in places where it is protected.

Profile

Class, ordre & family :

Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Bovidae

Genus :

Antilope

Species :

cervicapra

Lifespan :

12 to 16 years

Height and weight :

60 to 80 cm at the shoulder, 50 kg at the most

Gestation :

6 months, one baby

Natural habitat :

grassy plains, thinly forested areas

Diet :

grasses, leaves, fruit, flowers

Native region :

India

IUCN status: 

NT, near threatened

Way of life

Blackbucks are gregarious animals. After fierce fights with other males, the winner goes on to reign over a group of up to fifty females and young, defending them by marking out their territory which they do by depositing excrement and secretions produced from drip glands located under the eyes. Single males stay away.

At the first sign of danger, the herd flee at a fast gallop of close to 80 km/h, interspersed with jumps of up to 2 m high and 6 m long!

Blackbucks tend to feed early in the morning or in the late afternoon, spending the rest of the day lying in the shade.

Distinguishing features

In adulthood, only the males have an almost black coat on their backs and long spiralling horns that can measure up to 70 cm long. Females are smaller and have a light coat.

Anecdote

The blackbuck is no longer considered to be a sacred animal in Hindu mythology, except amongst the Bishnoi community, a small Indian group who doesn’t kill any animals as a matter of principle: they are said to be the reincarnations of ancestors, and it is not unheard of for women to nurse orphan fawns.

Hunted for its horns or because of the damage it causes to cereal crops and a victim of the destruction of its habitat, the blackbuck has virtually disappeared from some regions. It is now protected in a number of Indian reserves. In the United States and Argentina, it has been introduced as game in major hunting areas.

Antilope cervicapre mâle © MNHN - E. Goix
Antilopes cervicapres © MNHN - P. Roux
Antilope cervicapre © MNHN - F-G Grandin