This antelope's common name
means "blue bull," which is appropriate
since adult males are blue-grey in color; females
and juveniles are tawny colored. Both sexes have
a white ring below each fetlock, a white spot on
each cheek, and a short, stiff, black mane. The
lips, chin, inside of ears, and underside of the
tail are white, and males have a tuft of stiff
black hairs on the throat.
One of the largest Asian
antelopes, a nilgai bull can be 56 inches at the
shoulder, 6.5 feet in length, and weigh 600
pounds; females are considerably smaller.
Only males have horns, which
are black, sharp, curved, and average 8 inches in
Although nilgai appear to walk
and gallop rather jerkily, they are actually
capable of running over fairly rough terrain as
fast as 29 miles per hour. Nilgai have good
eyesight and hearing, but are not blessed with a
good sense of smell.
The nilgai is native to the
Indian subcontinent, from the foothills of the
Himalaya (from northeastern Pakistan to southern
Nepal) to south central India. There is also an
introduced population in southern Texas. Although
it can be found in a variety of grassy habitats,
it is much more common in hilly country which is
sparsely covered with trees and among the long
grass and scrub of the Indian plains.
Nilgai feed primarily on woody
grasses, supplemented with some flowers, seeds,
fruits, leaves, and stem tops. They feed in the
early morning and late evening, and spend the
rest of the day laying in the shade. They will
visit water frequently when available, but can go
long periods without if necessary.
The basic nilgai social unit is
a herd of 4-10 cows and juveniles. Adult bulls
are solitary or live in small groups. Herds will
occasionally come together where their home
ranges meet, but such associations are always
Mating peaks from December to
March, but can occur at any time of the year.
Males compete to join females' herds by pushing,
shoving, and "neck wrestling."
Two young (usually) are born
after a gestation period of 8-9 months. Females
reach sexual maturity at about 18 months, males
at about 2.5 years. Nilgai can live 20 years in
genus & species Boselaphus tragocamelus
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