Friday, December 15, 2023

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle)

Chinkara UPSC (Indian Gazelle UPSC)

The chinkara, also known as the Indian gazelle, is a species of gazelle. These small antelopes are native to parts of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan  and especially India. 

Chinkaras are known for their agility and speed. They are capable of reaching high speeds to evade predators. These gazelles are often solitary or found in small groups.

Chinkaras face threats from habitat loss, poaching, and competition with domestic livestock for resources. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists them as a species of "Least Concern" in terms of conservation status, but local populations may face more significant threats.

Table of Contents

  • Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Characteristics
    • Classification
    • Scientific Name
    • Subspecies
    • Habitat
    • Physical Appearance
    • Diet
    • Behavior
    • Reproduction
    • Lifespan
    • Speed
  • Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) in India
  • Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Protection Status
  • Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Conservation
  • Threats
  • Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) UPSC Question

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Characteristics

What is special about chinkara?

Here are some key characteristics of the Chinkara, or Indian Gazelle:

1. Classification:

The Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) belongs to the following classification:

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

2. Scientific Name:

The scientific name for the Chinkara, or Indian Gazelle, is Gazella bennettii.

3. Subspecies:

There exist six subspecies of Chinkara.

The following six subspecies are:

(i) Deccan Chinkara (G. b. bennettii):

Found in South India, from the Ganges Valley extending south to Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, and the Deccan Plateau.

(ii) Gujarat Chinkara (G. b. christii):

Inhabits the desert lowlands of Pakistan and western India, including the Rann of Kutch, Kathiawar, and Saurashtra region, with its eastern limit around Ahmedabad district in Gujarat.

(iii) Kennion Gazelle, Eastern Jebeer Gazelle, or Baluchistan Gazelle (G. b. fuscifrons):

Populates eastern Iran, including the southeast along the Makran coast, Sistan and Baluchistan, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan (Balochistan Province to Sindh), and northwestern India, particularly Rajasthan. Noted for its dark coloration.

(iv) Bushehr Gazelle (G. b. karamii):

Restricted to northeastern Iran, particularly near Bushehr. This subspecies is recognized for its smaller size.

(v) Jebeer Gazelle, Western Jebeer Gazelle, or Shikari Gazelle (G. b. shikarii):

Resides in northeastern Iran, covering north and west-central districts, including Touran, west to Tehran, and southwest to Shiraz County and beyond. This subspecies is distinguished by its paler coloration.

(vi) Salt Range Gazelle (G. b. salinarum):

Distributed in Pakistan, primarily in the Punjab region and extending eastward to Delhi, Indian Punjab, and Haryana in northwest India, including the Salt Range.

4. Habitat:

Chinkaras are adaptable animals that inhabit a range of arid and semi-arid habitats. Their habitat preferences include:

(i) Grasslands:

Chinkaras are often found in open grasslands, where they can graze on various grass species. These areas provide them with the necessary vegetation for their diet.

(ii) Deserts:

Chinkaras are well-adapted to arid desert regions, and they can be found in sandy and rocky desert landscapes. They have developed physiological and behavioral adaptations to cope with limited water availability.

(iii) Scrublands:

Chinkaras are commonly found in scrublands, characterized by low shrubs and bushes. These habitats offer both food resources and cover for the gazelles.

(iv) Semi-Arid Regions:

They thrive in semi-arid environments, which may include a mix of grasses, shrubs, and scattered trees. These regions are often characterized by seasonal variations in rainfall.

(v) Plateaus:

Chinkaras are known to inhabit plateaus, including the Deccan Plateau in South India. Plateaus provide elevated terrain with a mix of vegetation types.

(vi) Coastal Areas:

Some subspecies, like the Kennion Gazelle or Baluchistan Gazelle, may extend their range to coastal areas, including the Makran coast, Sistan, and Baluchistan.

5. Physical Appearance:

The Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) has distinct physical characteristics that contribute to its appearance. Here are some notable features:

(i) Size and Weight:

Chinkaras are relatively small to medium-sized gazelles. They typically have a compact and slender build. Chinkaras stand at 65 cm (26 in) tall and weigh about 23 kg (51 lb), making them the smallest Asiatic antelope species.

(ii) Coloration: 

The coat of Chinkaras varies in color, ranging from light brown to reddish-brown. The belly is usually white. The coloration helps them blend into their arid and semi-arid habitats.

(iii) Coat Texture:

The summer coat of Chinkaras is coarse, providing some protection against the harsh sun and dry conditions. In contrast, the winter coat is softer and thicker, offering insulation during colder periods.

(iv) Facial Markings: 

Chinkaras often have facial markings, including dark patches around the eyes and on the muzzle. The sides of the face have dark chestnut stripes from the corner of the eye to the muzzle, bordered by white stripes. These markings can vary among individuals.

(v) Horns:

Both males and females of Chinkaras have slender, slightly curved horns. The horns are relatively short, measuring around 20-39 cm in length. They are ringed and generally rise vertically before curving backward.

(vi) Size Variation: 

While there is generally limited sexual dimorphism (physical differences between males and females), males may be slightly larger than females, and their horns may be somewhat longer.

6. Diet:

The Chinkara is primarily herbivorous, and its diet consists of a variety of plant materials. Here are key aspects of their diet:

(i) Grasses:

Chinkaras predominantly feed on grasses. They graze on various species of grass that are available in their habitat. This forms a significant portion of their diet.

(ii) Leaves:

In addition to grasses, Chinkaras consume leaves from shrubs and low vegetation. This broadens their diet and provides essential nutrients.

(iii) Shrubs:

Chinkaras may browse on the leaves and tender shoots of shrubs. This behavior allows them to obtain nutrients from a diverse range of plant sources.

(iv) Adaptation to Limited Water:

Chinkaras are adapted to arid and semi-arid environments and can derive a significant portion of their water requirements from the vegetation they consume. This adaptation helps them survive in regions with limited access to water sources.

7. Behavior:

The behavior of Chinkaras (Indian Gazelles) is influenced by their habitat, social structure, and adaptations to survive in arid environments. Here are some key aspects of their behavior:

(i) Social Structure: 

Chinkaras typically exhibit social structures that include small groups or are solitary. While females and their offspring may form small herds, males are often found alone or in loose associations.

(ii) Territoriality:

Males, in particular, can be territorial. They may establish and defend territories, which can include areas with good foraging opportunities or preferred habitat features.

(iii) Activity Patterns:

Chinkaras are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during the dawn and dusk. This behavior helps them avoid the heat of the day in their arid habitats.

(iv) Graceful Movement:

Chinkaras are known for their agility and speed, and their physical structure supports quick and nimble movements, aiding in evading predators.

(v) Communication: 

Chinkaras may use vocalizations, such as snorts, grunts, and alarm calls, to communicate with each other. These vocalizations can serve to alert others in the group about potential threats.

(vi) Water Adaptations:

Chinkaras have the remarkable ability to live for extended periods without water. They can obtain sufficient fluids from leaves, plants, and dew droplets that accumulate on plant surfaces during the night.

(vii) Camouflage: 

The reddish-buff coloration of their coat serves as camouflage in the grasslands, helping them blend into their surroundings and avoid predators.

8. Reproduction:

The reproductive behavior of Chinkaras involves specific patterns related to mating, breeding, and raising offspring. Here are key aspects of their reproduction:

(i) Breeding Season:

Chinkaras typically have a defined breeding season, which often coincides with the monsoon season. During this time, there is an increased availability of food resources.

(ii) Mating Rituals:

Males may engage in mating rituals to attract females. These rituals may include territorial marking, vocalizations, and displays of physical prowess.

(iii) Gestation Period:

After successful mating, the female undergoes a gestation period, which lasts approximately six months.

(iv) Birth of Offspring:

Chinkara females give birth to a single fawn, although twins can occur on rare occasions. The birth usually takes place in a concealed location, providing some protection for the vulnerable newborn.

(v) Precocial Young:

Chinkara fawns are precocial, meaning they are born relatively well-developed and are capable of standing and walking shortly after birth.

(vi) Maternal Care:

The female provides maternal care and protection to the young fawn. The mother may hide the fawn in vegetation to protect it from predators.

(vii) Weaning:

The fawn is nursed by the mother and begins to transition to a diet of solid food as it grows older. Weaning typically occurs after a few months.

(viii) Independence:

As the young Chinkara matures, it gradually becomes more independent of its mother. The timing of this independence varies, but it often occurs within the first year of life.

(ix) Sexual Maturity:

Chinkaras reach sexual maturity at around one to two years of age, after which they are capable of participating in the reproductive cycle.

(x) Parental Investment:

Chinkara parents invest time and effort in raising their offspring, contributing to their survival and reproductive success.

9. Lifespan:

The average lifespan of Chinkaras, or Indian Gazelles, in the wild is typically around 10 to 14 years. However, various factors can influence their longevity, including environmental conditions, predation, and the availability of resources. In captivity, where they are provided with controlled environments, proper nutrition, and veterinary care, they may potentially live longer.

Chinkaras face threats from predators such as Indian leopards, Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions, dholes, pariah dogs, Indian wolves, and golden jackals. Additionally, human activities, habitat loss, and poaching can impact their populations.

10. Speed:

Chinkaras, or Indian Gazelles, are known for their impressive speed and agility. They are adapted to navigate the open landscapes of their arid habitats, and their swift movements are a key defense mechanism against predators. Here are some aspects related to the speed of Chinkaras:

(i) Running Speed:

Chinkaras are capable of reaching speeds of up to 55 kilometers per hour (34 miles per hour). This allows them to quickly cover large distances when evading predators or moving across their habitats.

(ii) Agility:

In addition to their speed, Chinkaras are highly agile. They can make rapid and sharp turns, allowing them to navigate through the varied terrain of grasslands, deserts, and scrublands.

(iii) Escape Strategy:

When threatened, Chinkaras often rely on their speed and agility to outrun predators. Their ability to change direction quickly helps them evade pursuit.

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) in India

The Chinkara is native to various regions in India and is distributed across different states. Here are some key points about the presence and conservation status of Chinkaras in India:

1. Geographical Distribution: 

Chinkaras are found in several states across India. Their distribution includes regions such as Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and others. 

2. Habitat Preferences: 

Chinkaras are well-adapted to arid and semi-arid environments. They can be found in landscapes such as the Thar Desert, the Rann of Kutch, and other dry regions. Their ability to derive moisture from the vegetation they consume allows them to survive in areas with limited water sources.

3. Subspecies Distribution:

The Deccan Chinkara ranges from the Ganges Valley to the Deccan Plateau. The Gujarat Chinkara is found in the Thar Desert, Rann of Kutch, Kathiawar, and Saurashtra region.

4. Significance in Rajasthan:

Around 60% of the global population of Indian Gazelles is concentrated in western Rajasthan. Chinkara is designated as the State Animal of Rajasthan.

5. Protected Areas and National Parks:

Chinkaras inhabit more than 80 protected areas in India. Notable national parks where they can be spotted include Gir National Park, Panna National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Desert National Park, and Bandhavgarh National Park.

6. Population Estimates:

In 2001, the Indian Chinkara population was estimated at 100,000, with a significant portion (80,000) living in the Thar Desert.

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Protection Status

The Chinkara holds specific protection statuses under various conservation frameworks. Here are the key protection statuses for Chinkaras:

1. IUCN Status:

The Chinkara is classified as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. This designation indicates that the species is not currently facing a high risk of extinction. However, local populations may still face threats, and conservation efforts are crucial for their well-being.

2. CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora):

Chinkaras from Pakistan are listed under CITES Appendix III. Appendix III includes species that are subject to regulation within the borders of a country, and international trade in these species may be regulated to ensure their conservation.

3. Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:

Chinkaras are listed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Schedule I includes species that receive the highest level of legal protection, and offenses related to these species are subjected to severe penalties. The inclusion in Schedule I highlights the conservation importance of Chinkaras in India.

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Conservation

Conservation efforts for Chinkaras focus on various strategies to safeguard their populations and habitats. Here are key aspects of Chinkara conservation:

1. Protected Areas and Wildlife Sanctuaries:

Establishing and managing protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries contribute significantly to Chinkara conservation. These areas provide safe habitats for the gazelles, minimizing disturbances and offering opportunities for natural behaviors.

2. Habitat Protection and Restoration:

Protecting the natural habitats of Chinkaras is crucial. Conservation initiatives work towards preventing habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation. Efforts may include habitat restoration projects to enhance the quality of existing habitats.

3. Anti-Poaching Measures:

Implementing anti-poaching measures is essential to protect Chinkaras from illegal hunting and trade. This involves increased monitoring, patrolling, and law enforcement to deter poachers and address the demand for Chinkara products.

4. Community Engagement:

Involving local communities in conservation efforts is key to promoting coexistence between Chinkaras and human populations. Awareness programs, education initiatives, and sustainable livelihood options contribute to reducing human-wildlife conflict.

5. Research and Monitoring:

Ongoing research and monitoring programs provide valuable data on Chinkara populations, behavior, and ecological needs. This information informs conservation strategies, helping adapt and refine approaches to address emerging challenges.

6. Translocation and Rehabilitation:

In some cases, translocation and rehabilitation programs may be implemented to establish new populations or reinforce existing ones. These initiatives require careful planning to ensure the success of reintroduced individuals.

7. International Cooperation:

Given the Chinkara's distribution across multiple countries, international cooperation is crucial for its conservation. Collaboration on research, information sharing, and coordinated conservation efforts contribute to the species' overall well-being.

8. Legislation and Legal Protection:

National and international laws play a vital role in Chinkara conservation. Listing the species under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, CITES Appendix III (for Pakistan), and recognizing their "Least Concern" status on the IUCN Red List provide legal frameworks for protection.


Chinkaras, like many wildlife species, face various threats that can impact their populations and habitats. Here are some of the key threats to Chinkaras, or Indian Gazelles:

1. Habitat Loss and Degradation:

One of the primary threats to Chinkaras is habitat loss due to agricultural expansion, urbanization, and infrastructure development. As their natural habitats are converted for human use, Chinkaras lose critical spaces for feeding, breeding, and shelter.

2. Human-Wildlife Conflict:

Encroachment of human settlements into Chinkara habitats can lead to conflicts. Grazing competition with domestic livestock, disturbances, and sometimes direct harm from humans pose significant threats.

3. Poaching and Illegal Trade:

Chinkaras are at risk of poaching for their meat, skin, and bones. The illegal wildlife trade, driven by demand for various body parts, poses a serious threat to their populations.

4. Illegal Hunting:

Chinkaras are threatened by extensive hunting for meat and trophies in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Illegal hunting poses a serious risk to their populations, affecting their abundance and distribution.

5. Predation:

Natural predators, including Indian leopards, Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions, dholes, pariah dogs, Indian wolves, and golden jackals, pose a threat to Chinkaras. The balance of predator-prey relationships can be disrupted in fragmented habitats.

6. Climate Change:

Changes in climate patterns, including altered precipitation and temperature regimes, can impact the availability of food and water resources for Chinkaras. Climate change may also affect the distribution of suitable habitats.

7. Fragmentation of Habitats:

Fragmentation of Chinkara habitats due to roads, agriculture, and other developments can isolate populations. Fragmentation reduces genetic diversity, increases vulnerability to predation, and limits access to resources.

8. Lack of Awareness:

Limited awareness among local communities and stakeholders about the importance of Chinkara conservation and the need for sustainable coexistence can contribute to unintentional threats.

9. Water Scarcity:

In arid and semi-arid regions where Chinkaras are found, water scarcity can be a limiting factor. Changes in water availability due to climate change or anthropogenic activities can impact their survival.

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) UPSC Question

Q. Is chinkara endemic in India?

A. Yes, the Chinkara (Gazella bennettii), also known as the Indian Gazelle, is native to and endemic in India. It is one of the native antelope species found in the Indian subcontinent. Chinkaras inhabit various regions across the country, including grasslands, deserts, scrublands, and semi-arid areas.

While Chinkaras are primarily distributed in India, they are also found in other countries in the region, including Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Their distribution extends across these countries, but they are particularly well-adapted to the diverse landscapes of the Indian subcontinent.

Q. In which state chinkara is found?

A. In India, Chinkaras are found in different states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and others. The Thar Desert, Rann of Kutch, and other arid regions are among the habitats where Chinkaras are commonly observed.

Q. What is chinkara also known as?

A. The Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) is commonly known by several names, and these names may vary regionally. Here are some of the alternative names by which the Chinkara is known:

1. Indian Gazelle: This is a common name for Chinkara, emphasizing its native range in the Indian subcontinent.

2. Ravine Deer: In some regions, Chinkaras are referred to as "Ravine Deer" due to their presence in ravine landscapes.

3. Baluchistan Gazelle: The eastern jebeer gazelle, a subspecies of Chinkara, is also known as the "Baluchistan Gazelle" due to its occurrence in the Baluchistan region.

4. Jebeer Gazelle: Another name for a specific subspecies of Chinkara, the "Jebeer Gazelle" is found in eastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwestern India.

5. Gujarat Gazelle: The Gujarat Chinkara, a subspecies found in the Rann of Kutch and other regions of Gujarat, is sometimes referred to as the "Gujarat Gazelle."

Q. What is the common name of the indian gazelle, found commonly in the thar desert of Rajasthan?

A. The Indian Gazelle commonly found in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan is known as the "Chinkara." The Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) is a species of gazelle that inhabits various arid and semi-arid regions, and it is particularly well-adapted to the desert landscapes of the Thar region. The Thar Desert, located in the northwestern part of India, is one of the primary habitats for Chinkaras, and they are often observed in this arid environment.

Q. Who is the state Animal of Rajasthan?

A. The Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) is the state animal of Rajasthan, India. This designation recognizes the significance of the Chinkara in the state's natural heritage and biodiversity. The Thar Desert and other arid regions of Rajasthan provide suitable habitats for Chinkaras, and the species is culturally and ecologically important in the region.

Q. Which national park in Rajasthan is known for chinkara?

A. Several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Rajasthan are known for hosting populations of Chinkaras. One notable national park where Chinkaras can be found is the "Ranthambore National Park." Ranthambore is renowned for its diverse wildlife, including Chinkaras, Bengal tigers, leopards, and various species of deer.

Q. What is the IUCN status of chinkara in India?

A. The IUCN Red List status for Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) in India is "Least Concern." The "Least Concern" designation indicates that, based on the available information, the species is not currently at a high risk of extinction.

Q. Is chinkara and blackbuck same?

A. No, Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) and Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) are different species of antelopes, although they are both native to the Indian subcontinent.

Here are some key differences between Chinkara and Blackbuck:

1. Species:

  • Chinkara, also known as the Indian Gazelle, belongs to the species Gazella bennettii.
  • Blackbuck is a distinct species known as Antilope cervicapra.

2. Physical Characteristics:

Chinkara is a smaller antelope, and its coloration is typically a reddish-buff with smooth, glossy fur. It has distinct facial markings, and both males and females have horns, with those of males being relatively longer.

Blackbuck is larger than Chinkara, and adult males have a striking appearance with a black and white coat. Females are generally fawn-colored. Only males have horns, which are twisted and can be quite long.

3. Habitat Preferences:

Chinkara is well-adapted to arid and semi-arid habitats, including deserts, grasslands, and scrublands.

Blackbuck is found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands and open plains. They are often associated with well-grassed areas.

4. Distribution:

  • Chinkara is distributed in various countries, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
  • Blackbuck is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent, including India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

Chinkara (Indian Gazelle)

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