Blackbuck is an antelope species found in India, southern Nepal, and Pakistan and is scientifically known as Antilope cervicapra. It has also been introduced in Argentina and Texas. It is one of the fastest running animals known running at a speed of 80 km/hour. In few antelope species both male and females can be identified by the body colour. The males have black and white body with long twisted horns while females are characterized by brown body colouration and lack horns. The name has been derived from a Latin word meaning she goat.
Blackbuck is an outmoded animal of Indian commonly known as Krishna Mriga. It has been declared as the state animal of Andhra Pradesh. It is also known as Indian antelope. The skin of the Indian antelope deserves a special mention in Hinduism as the Brahmin boys are supposed to wear a strip of unleathered hide prepared from it after performing Upanayanam. The animal is known to attain a length of 100-150 cm with a tail of 10-17 cm. Adult weighs about 25-30 kg. The horns of the animal are quite distinctive and are coiled with 1-4 spiral turns but number may vary. The horns may be as long as 79 cm. a trophy blackbuck is larger in length and may measure 46 cm. in males the upper surface of body is black while the belly and the eye rings are white. Females are light brown with no horn. They are usually found roaming in the plains in a herd of 15-20 animals with a dominant adult male.
While grazing in the plains they can run swiftly when attacked by the predators. Its chief predator was the Indian cheetah which is now extinct. It is sometimes preyed by feral dogs and wolves. The major food of this animal is made up of grasses but it can also feed on fruits and flowers in order to supplement its diet. The maximum lifespan recorded for antelopes is 16 years but on an average they can live for about 12 years. Four subspecies of antelopes are known. Albinism in these animals is although rare but can be caused due to lack of the pigment melanin. When melanin is absent the animal looks fully white. Earlier they were found over large tracts of India except the North East India but at present they are present in Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka with a few small pockets in Central India. Sometimes they can be seen grazing with Axis Deer, Chital, Nilgai and Barasingha.
The main threats to these animals are Poaching, Predation, Habitat destruction, Overgrazing, Diseases, Inbreeding and Sanctuary visitors. Blackbuck is mainly hunted for its flesh and skin. Indian government has now strictly prohibited the killing of these endangered animals. They are procted in India under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. One of the most popular Indian film star names Salman Khan was sentenced to five years imprisonment for killing two blackbucks and sevarl endangered chinkaras. At present only 50,000 individuals are remaining alive.