NilgaiThe Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is an antelope which is one of the most commonly seen wild animals of northern India and eastern Pakistan. It appears ox-like and is also known as a Blue bull.
DescriptionNilgai stand 1.2-1.5 meters (4-5 feet) at the shoulder and are 1.8-2 meters (6-6.6 feet) long. Their tails are 40-45 centimeters. Mature nilgai typically weigh 120-240 kilograms. The largest males in Texas can weigh over 272 kilograms (600 pounds).
Babies usually weigh 13.6-15.9 kilograms (30-35 pounds) at birth after an 8 month gestation period. Over 60% of births result in twins, though births of 1 or 3 do occur. They reach sexual maturity at around 18 months and can live as long as 21 years.
Nilgai have thin legs and a robust body that slopes down from the shoulder. Their long, narrow heads are topped by two small conical horns which are straight and tilted slightly forward. Horns on trophy males are normally 21.6-25.4 centimeters (8.5-10 inches). They have an erectile mane on the back of the neck and a tubular shaped "hair pennant" on the midsection of the throat.
Female nilgai have a short yellow-brown coat. Males' coats gradually darken to a grey-blue as they reach maturity. They have white spots on the cheeks and white coloring on the edges of the lips. They also have a white throat bib and a narrow white stripe along the underside of the body that widens at the rear.
HabitsBlue bulls mostly live in herds and in winter, male blue bulls form herds of 30 to 100 animals in northern India. They avoid dense forest and prefer the plains and low hills with shrubs. Blue bulls are usually found in their favoured areas of scrub jungle (acacia forests) grazing upon succulent kader grass. They are not averse to crossing marshlands.
Nilgai can be seen with black bucks in the open plains, and in the lower Terai regions they may be seen together with Chital and 'para' or Hog deer (Axis porcinus). The Chital and Hog Deer, being comparatively smaller in size, usually keep a respectful distance from the much larger Nilgai. Sambar frequent hills and dense forests and are rarely found in the same habitat as Nilgai.
The main predators of the blue bulls are tigers (Panthera tigris) and lions . Leopards are not capable of killing a full grown Nilgai but can take calves. A blue bull can survive for days without water, but they live close to waterholes. The deserts earlier limited their range, but the extension of irrigation canals and proliferation of tube-wells in the Thar desert have helped them colonise the desert districts of Jodhpur, Barmer, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Ganganagar. Blue bulls generally come to the same place to deposit their droppings.
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