Tuesday, December 26, 2023


Blackbuck UPSC

The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), or the Indian Antelope, is a species of antelope native to the Indian subcontinent. It is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah.

The blackbuck has been listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While they are widespread in some areas, their populations have declined due to habitat loss, hunting, and competition with livestock for resources.

Table of Contents

  • Blackbuck Characteristics
    • Classification
    • Scientific Name
    • Habitat
    • Physical Appearance
    • Diet
    • Behavior
    • Reproduction
    • Lifespan
    • Speed
  • Blackbuck in India
  • Blackbuck Population in India
  • Blackbuck Protection Status
  • Blackbuck Conservation
  • Threats
  • Blackbuck UPSC Question

Blackbuck Characteristics

What are the special features of black buck?

Here are some key characteristics of the blackbuck:

1. Classification:

The blackbuck belongs to the following taxonomic classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Bovidae
  • Subfamily: Antilopinae
  • Genus: Antilope
  • Species: Antilope cervicapra

2. Scientific Name:

The scientific name of the blackbuck is Antilope cervicapra.

3. Habitat:

Blackbucks are primarily found in grassy plains, scrublands, and semi-desert areas with easily available water resources. They are well-adapted to open habitats with short grasses, which provide them with a clear line of sight to detect predators. The specific types of habitats where blackbucks are commonly found include:

(i) Grasslands:

Blackbucks thrive in areas with ample grass cover. They are herbivores and graze on various grass species. It is considered as the epitome of grassland.

(ii) Scrublands:

They can also inhabit scrubby areas with scattered vegetation, as long as there is enough open space for them to move and graze.

(iii) Semi-Desert Regions:

While they prefer grasslands, blackbucks are known to inhabit semi-desert regions as well. However, even in such areas, they are typically associated with patches of vegetation.

(iv) Human-Modified Landscapes:

Blackbucks have also adapted to certain human-modified landscapes, including agricultural fields with suitable vegetation.

4. Physical Appearance:

The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) exhibits distinctive physical characteristics, and there are noticeable differences between males and females:

(i) Size:

  • Blackbucks stand between 74 and 84 cm tall at the shoulder. 
  • The head-to-body length is nearly 120 cm (47 in).

(ii) Weight:

  • Males weigh between 20 to 57 kg, with an average of 38 kg.
  • Females are lighter, weighing between 20 to 33 kg, with an average of 27 kg.

(iii) Coat Coloration:

The coats of males exhibit two-tone coloration. The upper parts and outsides of the legs are dark brown to black, while the underparts and insides of the legs are white. Females and juveniles are yellowish-fawn to tan, displaying the same white areas but with more of a beige tone than males.

(iv) Seasonal Changes:

Blackbucks undergo molting in spring, resulting in a lighter appearance, though darkness persists on the face and legs. Males grow darker as the breeding season approaches.

(v) Facial Features:

The white fur on the chin and around the eyes creates a sharp contrast with the black stripes on the face. Both males and females may have a horizontal white side-stripe, more pronounced in females, starting around the shoulder and ending at the rump.

(vi) Horns:

Males have long, ringed horns that resemble corkscrews, measuring between 35 to 75 cm. Females are usually hornless, but may also develop horns, though they are generally shorter than those of males.

(vii) Horn Divergence:

The horns of males diverge, forming a "V"-like shape, and they are generally longer and more divergent in specimens from certain regions in India.

(viii) Sexual Dimorphism:

Sexual dimorphism is prominent, with males being heavier and darker than females.

(ix) Resemblance to Gazelles:

Blackbucks bear a close resemblance to gazelles but can be distinguished by the fact that while gazelles are brown in the dorsal parts, blackbucks develop a dark brown or black color in these areas.

5. Diet:

Blackbucks are herbivores with a diet primarily consisting of grasses. Here are some key aspects of their diet:

(i) Grazers:

Blackbucks are classified as grazers, meaning they predominantly feed on grasses. They graze on a variety of grass species found in their habitat. Blackbucks primarily graze on low grasses, and they occasionally engage in browsing as well.

(ii) Preferred Plant Species:

Blackbucks are known to be selective feeders, choosing specific parts of plants that are more nutritious. The species has specific preferences for certain plants, including sedges, fall witchgrass, mesquite etc..

(iii) Diet Composition in Specific Locations:

In the Velavadar Black Buck Sanctuary, Dichanthium annulatum comprised 35% of the diet, indicating a reliance on specific grass species in that habitat.

(iv) Adaptations to Scarcity:

During times when grasses are scarce, blackbucks adapt their diet to include other food sources. For instance, they may forage on the fruits of Prosopis juliflora, highlighting their adaptability to varying environmental conditions.

(v) Water Requirements:

The blackbuck has a daily requirement for water, emphasizing the importance of access to water sources in its habitat.

(vi) Feeding Behavior:

Blackbucks typically graze during the early morning and late afternoon, avoiding the heat of the day. Their feeding behavior is adapted to their habitat, where they utilize open spaces for grazing while remaining vigilant for potential predators.

6. Behavior:

Blackbucks exhibit various behaviors that are adapted to their natural habitat and social structure. Here are some key aspects of their behavior:

(i) Diurnal Activity:

Blackbucks are diurnal, meaning they are primarily active during the day. However, they are less active at noon when temperatures rise, which is a behavioral adaptation to avoid the heat of the day.

(ii) Social Structure:

Blackbucks are social animals and are often found in herds. These herds can be segregated by gender, with males forming bachelor groups and females living in larger herds.

(iii) Mating Strategies:

Males often adopt lekking as a mating strategy to attract females. Territories are established based on the distribution of female groups, ensuring greater access to females. Lekking involves active defense of resources within territories.

(iv) Territorial Marking:

Territories are marked with scent using preorbital gland and interdigital gland secretions, faeces, and urine. This marking serves to communicate territory ownership and reproductive status.

(v) Feeding Behavior:

Blackbucks are primarily grazers, and they feed during the early morning and late afternoon, avoiding the heat of the day. They are known to be selective feeders, choosing the most nutritious parts of plants.

(vi) Resting Patterns:

During the hottest parts of the day, blackbucks rest in shaded areas to avoid excessive heat. This behavior is a strategy to conserve energy and stay cool.

(vii) Seasonal Movements:

Blackbucks may exhibit seasonal movements based on factors such as food availability and breeding conditions. In some regions, they may migrate to follow the availability of resources.

(viii) Interaction with Other Species:

Blackbucks may share their habitat with other herbivores and, in some cases, livestock. How they interact with other species can influence their behavior and movement patterns.

(ix) Alertness and Vigilance:

Blackbucks are alert and vigilant, keeping a lookout for potential predators. Their keen eyesight and ability to detect threats contribute to their survival in open habitats.

7. Reproduction:

Here are the key points related to their reproduction:

(i) Sexual Maturity:

Females become sexually mature at eight months of age but typically do not mate until they are two years old. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of one-and-a-half years.

(ii) Mating Season:

Mating in blackbucks can occur throughout the year. In India, two peaks are observed from August to October and from March to April.

(iii) Mating Behavior:

Rutting males aggressively establish and defend territories, engaging in loud grunts and head-to-head fights with other males. Aggressive displays include thrusting the neck forward, raising it, folding the ears, raising the tail, and pursuing the female with a flehmen response.

The female signals receptivity by waving her tail and thumping hindlegs on the ground. Copulation involves mounting attempts and may last up to six hours.

(iv) Gestation and Birth:

Gestation typically lasts six months, after which a single calf is born. Newborns are light yellow, and infant males may have a black patch on the head and neck. Young are precocial, able to stand on their own soon after birth.

(v) Reproductive Cycle:

Females can mate again after a month of giving birth, indicating a relatively short reproductive cycle.

8. Lifespan:

The typical lifespan of blackbucks (Antilope cervicapra) ranges from 10 to 15 years. Various factors, including environmental conditions, predation, and the availability of resources, can influence the lifespan of individuals in the wild. 

In captivity, where there may be fewer environmental challenges and predators, blackbucks may sometimes live longer than their counterparts in the wild. 

9. Speed:

Blackbucks are known for their exceptional speed and agility. It is considered to be the fastest animal in the world next to Cheetah. They are one of the fastest land animals, capable of reaching speeds up to 80 kilometers per hour (50 miles per hour). 

This remarkable speed is an adaptation that helps them evade predators in their natural habitat, which often consists of open grasslands where visibility is high. The ability to run swiftly allows blackbucks to escape from potential threats, contributing to their survival in the wild.

Blackbuck in India

1. Geographical Range in India:

Blackbucks are native to the Indian subcontinent and inhabit grassy plains and thinly forested areas where perennial water sources are available. They are found from the base of the Himalayas to the southernmost regions, including states like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and others.

2. Conservation Status:

Small, scattered herds of blackbucks are now largely confined to protected areas. The species faces threats such as habitat loss, hunting, and competition with livestock. Blackbucks are protected under various wildlife protection acts and international agreements. In India, hunting is prohibited under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

3. Cultural Significance:

The blackbuck holds cultural and religious significance in some regions of India. It has been declared the State Animal of Punjab, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh. It is considered a symbol of purity in Hinduism and a symbol of good luck in Buddhism.

4. Notable Protected Areas:

Velavadar National Park in Gujarat, Point Calimere Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Tal Chhapar Sanctuary in Rajasthan, and others are notable protected areas where blackbucks can be found.

Blackbuck Population in India

How many BlackBuck are left in India?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that the blackbuck population in India exhibited significant growth, increasing from approximately 22,000 individuals in the 1970s to over 50,000 by the year 2000. 

This positive trend suggests successful conservation efforts and protective measures implemented during this period. Continued monitoring and conservation initiatives will be essential to ensure the sustained recovery and well-being of the blackbuck population in India.

Blackbuck Protection Status

1. IUCN Status:

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categorizes the blackbuck as "Least Concern," indicating that the species is not currently facing a high risk of extinction.

2. CITES Status:

The blackbuck is listed under CITES Appendix III, signifying that there are regulations and restrictions on its international trade to ensure protection.

3. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (India):

In India, the blackbuck holds the highest level of legal protection under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This designation underscores the significance of conservation efforts for the species within the country.

Blackbuck Conservation

1. Habitat Protection:

Conservation initiatives focus on preserving and protecting the natural habitats of blackbucks, including grassy plains, scrublands, and semi-desert areas.

2. Wildlife Sanctuaries and Reserves:

Establishment of wildlife sanctuaries and reserves, such as Velavadar National Park in Gujarat and Tal Chhapar Sanctuary in Rajasthan, provides protected areas for blackbucks to thrive.

3. Legal Protection:

Stringent legal measures, including listing blackbucks under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 in India, ensure legal protection and penalties against hunting, poaching, and trade.

4. International Regulation:

Listing blackbucks under CITES Appendix III regulates international trade, helping control and monitor any cross-border movements to ensure the species' conservation.

5. Conservation Reserves:

Efforts to establish dedicated conservation reserves, such as the Blackbuck Conservation Reserve in Uttar Pradesh, aim to provide additional protected areas for blackbucks.

6. Community Involvement:

Involving local communities in conservation programs fosters a sense of responsibility and cooperation in protecting blackbucks and their habitats.

7. Translocation Programs:

Some regions implement translocation programs to reintroduce blackbucks to suitable habitats, ensuring genetic diversity and expanding populations.

8. International Collaboration:

Collaboration with international organizations, wildlife agencies, and researchers facilitates the exchange of knowledge, resources, and best practices for blackbuck conservation.


1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation:

Rapid urbanization, agricultural expansion, and infrastructure development lead to habitat loss and fragmentation, reducing the available space for blackbucks to roam and forage.

2. Human-Wildlife Conflict:

Encroachment of human settlements into blackbuck habitats can result in conflicts, with incidents of vehicle collisions, crop damage, and potential harm to both humans and blackbucks.

3. Poaching and Illegal Trade:

Despite legal protections, blackbucks are still at risk from poaching for their meat, skin, and horns. The illegal trade in wildlife poses a significant threat to their populations.

4. Predation:

Natural predators, such as wolves and jackals, can pose a threat to blackbuck populations, especially targeting juveniles, weakened individuals, or during vulnerable stages like reproduction.

5. Climate Change:

Changes in climate patterns, including extreme weather events, can impact the availability of water and food resources, affecting the overall health and survival of blackbucks.

6. Grazing with Livestock:

Competition for grazing resources with domestic livestock can lead to reduced forage availability for blackbucks, affecting their nutrition and overall fitness.

7. Invasive Species:

The introduction of invasive plant species can alter the natural vegetation composition, affecting the quality and availability of forage for blackbucks.

8. Disease Outbreaks:

Disease outbreaks, whether among blackbucks or transmitted from livestock, can have devastating effects on populations, particularly in areas with close proximity to domestic animals.

9. Lack of Genetic Diversity:

Small and isolated populations are susceptible to a lack of genetic diversity, which can compromise their adaptability and resilience to changing environmental conditions.

10. Tourism Impact:

Unregulated tourism and human disturbances in wildlife habitats may lead to stress, disruption of natural behaviors, and habitat degradation, impacting the well-being of blackbucks.

Blackbuck UPSC Question

Q. Where is blackbuck found in India?/In which state black buck is found?

A. Blackbucks (Antilope cervicapra) are found in various states across India. They inhabit grassy plains, scrublands, and thinly forested areas. Here are some states where blackbucks can be found:

1. Rajasthan: Blackbucks are prevalent in the state of Rajasthan, where they can be spotted in grassy plains and semi-arid regions.

2. Gujarat: The state of Gujarat is home to blackbucks, and the Velavadar National Park in Gujarat is known for its significant blackbuck population.

3. Madhya Pradesh: Blackbucks are found in parts of Madhya Pradesh, and wildlife sanctuaries in the state provide protected areas for their conservation.

4. Tamil Nadu: Blackbucks can be found in wildlife sanctuaries such as Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.

5. Maharashtra: The Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary in Maharashtra is another area where blackbucks are present.

6. Karnataka: Blackbucks inhabit certain regions in Karnataka, and the Ranibennur Blackbuck Sanctuary is one of the areas where they can be found.

These are just a few examples, and blackbucks may also be present in other states across peninsular India.

Q. Which country has most BlackBuck?

A. India has the largest population of blackbucks (Antilope cervicapra). Blackbucks are native to the Indian subcontinent, and their distribution spans various states across the country. While there are some populations of blackbucks in other countries, the majority of these antelopes are found in India.

Q. Is black buck in India IUCN status?

A. The IUCN Red List status for the blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is "Least Concern." 

Q. Why is BlackBuck endangered in India?

A. The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is not classified as endangered; its IUCN status is "Least Concern." However, various factors can impact wildlife populations, and understanding the historical context of conservation efforts can shed light on past challenges. Here are some reasons that may have contributed to concerns about the blackbuck population in the past:

1. Habitat Loss: Like many wildlife species, blackbucks have faced habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, urbanization, and infrastructure development. The conversion of natural habitats into farmland or urban areas can reduce the available space for blackbucks to thrive.

2. Hunting and Poaching: Historically, blackbucks were hunted for their meat, skin, and antlers. Uncontrolled hunting and poaching can significantly impact population numbers and led to conservation concerns.

3. Human-Wildlife Conflict: Encroachment of human settlements into blackbuck habitats can result in conflicts, with incidents of vehicle collisions, crop damage, and potential harm to both humans and blackbucks.

4. Lack of Legal Protections: In the absence of strict legal measures and protected areas, blackbucks might be more vulnerable to hunting and habitat destruction.

Q. Why is blackbuck famous in India?

A. The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) holds cultural, ecological, and conservation significance in India, contributing to its fame in the country. Here are some reasons why the blackbuck is notable in India:

1. Cultural and Symbolic Significance: The blackbuck is considered sacred in Hinduism, and its skin and horns are often associated with religious rituals. In Hindu mythology, certain deities and sages are depicted with a blackbuck skin or are associated with the blackbuck.

2. State Animal: The blackbuck is the state animal of three Indian states: Punjab, Haryana, and Andhra Pradesh. This official recognition adds to its cultural and symbolic importance.

3. Conservation Success: The successful conservation and recovery of the blackbuck population in India highlight the effectiveness of conservation efforts. The species has been able to rebound from historical threats, contributing to its fame as a conservation success story.

4. Tourist Attractions: Blackbucks can be found in various wildlife sanctuaries and national parks across India. These areas attract tourists and wildlife enthusiasts who come to observe and appreciate the beauty of these graceful antelopes.

5. Biodiversity Conservation: The blackbuck contributes to the overall biodiversity of India's grassland ecosystems. Its presence is a part of the natural heritage of the country.

6. Photographic and Ecotourism Attraction: Blackbucks are known for their elegant appearance, especially the striking contrast between their dark coats and white markings. This makes them popular subjects for wildlife photographers and contributes to ecotourism initiatives.

7. Historical References:

The blackbuck has historical significance, with references in literature, art, and cultural traditions. This contributes to its fame as a species deeply intertwined with India's history and heritage.

Q. Why BlackBuck is hunted?

A. Historically, blackbucks have been hunted for various reasons, though it's important to note that hunting blackbucks is now illegal in many areas due to conservation efforts. Here are some reasons why blackbucks were hunted in the past:

1. Meat: Blackbuck meat was considered a source of food, and hunting for sustenance was a common practice in certain regions.

2. Trophy Hunting: The distinctive spiral horns of male blackbucks make them a sought-after trophy for hunters. The horns are often considered valuable and are used for ornamental and decorative purposes.

3. Cultural and Ritual Significance: In some cultures and traditions, blackbuck skins and horns were used for cultural rituals and ceremonies. This historical use, often associated with religious practices, contributed to the hunting of blackbucks.

4. Agricultural Conflicts: Blackbucks, being herbivores, may sometimes be considered pests by farmers when they enter agricultural fields and damage crops. In such cases, hunting was seen as a means of pest control.

5. Traditional Beliefs: There were traditional beliefs associated with the use of blackbuck body parts in certain folk remedies or practices, contributing to their hunting.


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