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Black Buck



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Black Buck

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Pick up any of the paintings depicting an Indian sage in meditation, and you will always find two things: a wise man sitting on a tigerís hide, and an impressive black buck standing nearby. This graceful antelope has inspired poets and the painters, since the beginning of civilisation. Today, black bucks are the beloved of the Bishnois, (tribals who inhabit the Thar Desert) who treat them as their children. 

The average height of a black buck is 80-85cm, and its weighs around 40kg. A beautiful pair of horns adorn the male, and they grow by a node each year. The male wears a dark brown coat, while that of the female is a lighter shade of brown. The ventral portion of the belly, the legs and the chin of both the sexes are white. The black buck feeds mainly on grass and cereal crops and plays havoc in the villages near the National Parks. 

With the onset of the rutting season, the behaviour of the black buck takes an interesting turn. Suddenly the males become extremely intolerant of each other. They demarcate their territories by rubbing a sticky secretion from the glands under their eyes on the leaves of plants and young shoots. Any intrusion into oneís territory is challenged and dealt with. More often than not, stags can be seen with their horns locked. The fights are more or less symbolic, and very rarely do the combatants inflict any serious injury on each other. Nevertheless, a few cases of death due to the permanent locking of the horns have been reported. Unable to feed due to locked horns, the poor stags starve to death. 

Another impressive characteristic of the species is its agility. When chased by its predators, it can clip at a speed of more than 100km per hour.

The gestation period of the black buck is ten months, and the litter comprises of one or two calves. The young ones are extremely agile and restless, and the mother has to take great care to look after them. Females attain maturity faster than males, and are ready to conceive at the age of four to five.

The list of the black buckís enemies is long. It forms the staple diet of almost all the big cats, but its biggest threat comes from man. It is hunted for its skin and meat. Sometimes stray dogs form a group and hunt fawns and young black bucks.

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