|The Mammals of Texas -
Artiodactyla : Family Bovidae :
Antilope cervicapra (Linnaeus)
Description. A medium-sized antelope with
ringed, unbranched, "corkscrew" horns that rise
above the head of males in a tall, V-shaped pattern.
Measured from base to tip, horns reach up to 79 cm in
length, although Texas blackbuck rarely have horns
exceeding 58 cm. Normally, females are hornless.
Coloration in mature males is black
dorsally, while females and young males are tan. All
blackbuck have white eye rings, chin patch, chest, belly,
and inner legs. In the nonbreeding season, after the
spring molt, adult males may lighten considerably and
retain their darkest coloration only on the face and
In Texas, adult males average 38 kg in
weight, with a range of 20-57 kg. Females weigh 20-33 kg,
averaging 27 kg.
Distribution in Texas. Blackbuck
antelope were originally released in Texas in the Edwards
Plateau (Kerr County) in 1932. In 1988, only eight Texas
counties had free-ranging blackbuck, but these antelope
were confined on ranches in 86 counties. Of the total
number of exotics confined on Texas ranches in 1988, only
the axis deer outnumbered blackbuck antelope.
Habits. Blackbuck are native to
India and Pakistan where they were widespread in plains
and open woodlands; wet coastal areas, western deserts,
and northern mountains limited their distribution. Today,
extensive hunting and habitat destruction have restricted
blackbuck to only small, isolated populations in their
former native habitat.
More than 80% of the blackbuck in Texas
inhabit the Edwards Plateau region, where the patchwork
of open grassland and brush provides both excellent
forage and cover. Their range is restricted to the north
and west by cold winters, to the south by coyote
predation, and to the east by parasitism.
Blackbuck prefer to graze on short to
mid-length grasses but also browse on common brush
species. Forage selection is primarily determined by
availability with sedges, fall witchgrass, mesquite, and
live oak commonly eaten. Forb use by blackbuck is low.
Adult males are highly territorial and
defend areas ranging from 1.2 to 12 ha in size against
trespass by other males. Female groups may graze through
male territories, and breeding activity may take place at
such times, but other males are excluded. Young males,
and bucks without territories, form their own all male
groups. At physical maturity (2 - 2½ years of age) young
bucks may split from the all-male group to establish or
win their own territory.
Breeding may take place at any time of
the year; however, bucks are more active in spring and
fall. Fawns are born at all seasons, but fewest births
occur in winter. The length of gestation is about 5
months and within a month of parturition the female may
breed again. A single fawn is the rule.
Females reach sexual maturity by 8
months of age, but usually do not breed until nearly 2
years of age. Physical maturity is reached at 1 year.
Males mature later than females, and are able to breed at
18 month of age. The lifespan is up to 15 years.
* nonnative species
Photo credit: John L. Tveten.