Nilgai or Blue Bull | Online Record Book Preview
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Nilgai or Blue Bull - Species Detail
Nilgo (Sp), Nilgau-Antilope (G), Nilgaut (F). "Nilgai" (sometimes nilgau) is from the Hindustani nil (blue) and the Farsi gau (cow).
DESCRIPTION (male) Shoulder height 52-58 inches (132-147 cm). Weight 530-600 pounds (240-272 kg). The female is about half the size of the male.
An odd-looking, horse-like antelope with high shoulders, low rump and very small horns. Overall color is iron-gray, with white markings on cheeks, ears and fetlocks. There is a tuft of stiff, black hairs on the throat, and a mane on the neck and shoulders. The horns (males only) are short, straight and conical, and have an extended lip in front. Females lack horns and throat tuft, but are otherwise similar.
BEHAVIOR Males are usually solitary, but occasionally form groups. Females and young are in family parties, sometimes small herds. Bulls are territorial during the rut, gathering small harems, which they defend against other males, fighting by dropping to their knees and lunging with their horns. Some breeding occurs throughout the year, but most calves (usually two, sometimes one) are born June to October, with mating taking place soon after the female has given birth. Nilgai have lived as long as 21 years in captivity.
Diurnal. Both a grazer and a browser, fond of crops, fruit and sugar cane. Able to get by with little water. Sense of smell and eyesight are very good, hearing is good. A fairly fast runner.
HABITAT Forests, low jungles, occasionally open plains.
DISTRIBUTION Eastern Pakistan, India and Nepal.
REMARKS Once extremely abundant. Hunting nilgai on horseback was a favorite sport of the Mughal emperors who ruled much of India in the 16th-18th centuries. Hindus regard the nilgai as sacred because it is distantly related to the cow; however, it does not domesticate well and cannot be herded. Highly tolerant of man when unmolested, it learns quickly and can be very difficult to approach once subjected to hunting pressure.
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