The Blackbuck

Antilope Cervicapra

With their long, corkscrew horns, black and white markings, and lithe bodies, the Blackbuck is a distinctive creature.

In recent years, it’s also become a mascot for wildlife conservation in western India, particularly Rajasthan and Gujarat, which have their own sub-species called Antilope cervicapra rajputanae. Swift and agile, it’s native to India and Nepal. One usually finds it in grassy and thinly forested areas, near water.

Blackbuck are often found in herds and we love to observe these graceful creatures in the Blackbuck Sanctuary in Velavadar in Gujarat.

The open grassland and dry climate is ideal for these creatures. You can capture that startled “deer in the headlights” look with your lens, before they streak off at a fast run.

Kanha is another great place to spot these beautiful creatures and capture them on camera, as they dart across the open meadows.

One frequently spots them in the west of Rajasthan as well, and you can often spot them leaping gracefully across the ground in the wilderness bordering Jodhpur.

In fact, local tribes like the Bishnois, consider it a sacred creature and protect both the animal and its habitat. Several spiritualists and tribe consider it a holy animal, and there are several mentions of it in Hindu scripture.

From the days of the Indus Valley civilization, the blackbuck was hunted for its meat and its hide until it almost went extinct.

In the old days, kings used to hunt the Blackbuck with highly trained Cheetahs. Ironically, the Cheetah is now extinct, while the Blackbuck has survived. Today, it is a heavily protected species, and immense conservation efforts have brought the numbers back to West, Central and South Indian forests.