What lands are the Nilgai Antelope native to?
Nilgai Antelope are native to India, the country from which they inherited their name that means “blue cow” or “blue bull.” With their habitat situated at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, the nilgai prefers hillsides, grass steppes, as well as cultivated areas with a lesser abundance of trees. Because of their disdain for immensely cold weather, the nilgai easily adapted to the climates of southern Texas when they were brought over in the 1920s to occupy exhibits of local Texan zoos. In the 1930s, the nilgai were released into the surrounding areas of Texas where their populations continued to grow as they thrived among the land that had a lack of predation, when their known predator, the tiger, had been a reason for their decline in numbers within their native lands.
How to recognize a Nilgai.
The nilgai have a distinct appearance and a recognizable one, too. Being the largest of Indian antelopes, the nilgai bulls weigh an average of 450 to 530 pounds, while the cows average 330 to 450 pounds. From the shoulder, they are an average height of 4 to 5 feet tall. The nilgai have a large body and relatively slender legs in comparison; the bulls have horns that measure 5 inches long, while the cows have no horns. The calves and cows maintain a tan/brown coat, and the bulls acquire a blue/black wiry-like coat as they get older. Both the nilgai bull and the cow have a mane on the back of the neck and the underside of the neck, with white fur patches close to their eyes, along their cheeks, and under their throats as well as stomachs, the inside of their hind legs, and underneath their narrow tales. In addition, nilgai are herbivores; they survive off of seeds, succulents, flowers, fruit, grasses, herbs, as well as leaves. Their preference of agricultural crops is a primary reason they become poached by another known predator, the hunter. Nilgai typically remain silent, though they have been known to rumble, especially when disturbed; and when provoked, the nilgai can reach speeds of up to 29mph.
When does mating season begin for the Nilgai?
Though the mating season of the Nilgai can be year around, in Texas, mating season begins November and lasts up until March. The bulls will mark their territory, defending the cows they will mate with and facing off against other bulls, who near their territory, through displaying intimidating postures with behavior that can escalate to neck wrestling and the knocking of horns. Moreover, after the 8-month gestation period, the calves are born in September into the late fall months. Nilgai often give birth to two calves and sometimes three are born at once; the calves weigh about 15 pounds when they are born. Although nilgai face threats through declining native habitats and heavy poaching in some areas, they maintain steady populations of 10,000 in India and 15,000 in Texas.