Morni Wildlife: Nilgai

January 30, 2013

Nilgai/ Blue Bull/ Roz/ Rojh (Boselaphus tragocamelus Pallas) is the largest antelope of Asia, with the adult weighing over 250 kg. Adult males are blue-grey with thin black legs (having transverse white bands) and white markings/ spots on ears and cheeks. Nilgai is nearly 5 feet high at the shoulder and the body slopes sharply to the rear. A ‘beard-like’ tuft of tough coarse hair hangs under the mid-throat area. Males have short, black, smooth horns that curve forwards. Females are pale- brown in colour. Nilgai’s skin is tough and relatively smooth. Body hair is thin and wiry. The mane is erect and prominent. Tail is long and tufted. Nilgai has a sharp vision and hearing.

The large animal moves with surprising agility and will lower its head and charge ferociously when threatened. The British game hunters of 19th century report instances of vicious defensive attacks by nilgai that would bring down the hunter with the horse!  The Mughals referred to the antelope as nil-ghor, blue-horse.

A peculiarity of the nilgai is that it defecates at the same spot forming dung heaps.

Male and female groups move seperately and intermingle only during breeding.

Nilgai is typically found in low hills, scrub forests and grasslands and is destructive for crops. It feeds on grasses and leaves. It is considered sacred by the Hindus and this has saved it from large scale hunting. Nilgai is hunted by packs of dogs with instances being reported in the Bir Shikargarh forest of Morni-Pinjore. Nilgai calves are preyed upon by the leopards who, however, stay clear of the adult males.

Nilgai Bull

Nilgai Bull

Nilgai cow,  Ramdegi, Taroba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Nilgai cow

 

Nilgai family

Nilgai family

19th century artist’s impression of the ‘nyl-ghau’
Author yet to photograph it in the wild in Morni!

References:

  1. The Naturalist’s Library: Mammalia (Vol.4); Ruminantia Part II ; William Jardine (1836)

Filed in: Wildlife

About the Author ()

An environmental enthusiast who loves tramping through the hills in search of the picturesque.

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