Scientific Name

Antilope cervicapra

Species Survival Plan





Man, cheetah and wolf


Grasses, leaves, buds and field fruits

Originally Native To

India, Nepal and Pakistan


30 inches at shoulder


Male 75-100 lb. / Female 68-86 lb.


Male – Ringed horns spiraling in a “V”

Gestation Period

5 months

Birth Season

Any season


Wild ? / Captivity 16 years

Social Behavior

Female herds, mixed sex herds and bachelor herds; territorial males


1 fawn



Once abundant, blackbuck antelope are now rare outside of game preserves in India. Hunting for meat and trophies, as well as habitat destruction, has severely reduced the numbers of wild blackbuck. Though their populations have stabilized, it is illegal to hunt blackbuck in India.

The blackbuck is an antelope of the same tribe (Antilopini) that includes gazelles, the springbok, and the gerenuk.

One of the few antelope which exhibits pronounced sexual dimorphism, males and females are readily distinguishable. Only males have ridged, spirally twisted, V-shaped horns that can grow to more than 29 inches. All young are born tan, but males gradually darken to deep brown or black with age.

Females remain a light tan with white markings, and immature males have the same coloration. Both sexes have white markings that include circular eye patches, mouth, underside, inner legs, and rump patch.

Blackbuck are primarily grazers and prefer open, short grassland, but they can survive in semidesert where there is sufficient vegetation. When grass is sparse, they will browse. Their favorite foods are flowering plants, mesquite, witchgrass, live oak, and acacia trees.

Blackbuck are active during the daytime, will tolerate the hottest sun, and see shade for only 2-3 hours at midday.

Dominant males command a territory of 3-40 acres that includes a harem of females and young.

Blackbuck males at Fossil Rim can be seen running wayward females back to the harem and keeping other males away. Only territorial males breed.

During breeding season, males defend these areas tirelessly in order to keep the largest group of females with them for the longest period of time. This is primarily achieved with posturing and threatening gestures, but fighting with the sharp horns does occur.

Rutting bucks pursue and herd females, approaching with prancing steps, a curled tail, and their swollen preorbital glands everted while emitting throaty grunts. Territories are demarcated with dung middens and sticky black preorbital secretions deposited on grass stems and bushes. If females are suitably impressed with a male's fighting ability and territory, they will mate with him.

With a six-month gestation period, blackbuck can produce two young per year.

When alarmed, blackbuck can leap straight up into the air. Depending mainly on eyesight to avoid capture, blackbuck are among the fastest antelope and the only predator they cannot outrun is the cheetah; before 1900, hunters used specially trained Asiatic cheetahs to capture blackbuck. Their main predators now - pariah dogs and jackals - feed mainly on fawns.

At Fossil Rim, they live in the Front Pasture - the first pasture you enter.


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As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.