Antelope cervicapra roaming free at Karera Wildlife Sanctuary – Madhya Pradesh, India

The blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an antelope species native to the Indian Subcontinent that has been classified as near threatened by IUCN since 2003, as the blackbuck range has decreased sharply during the 20th century. The blackbuck is the only living species of the genus Antilope. Its generic name stems from the Latin word antalopus, a horned animal. The species cervicapra is composed of the Latin words capra, she-goat and cervus, deer. Males and females have distinctive coloration. Male blackbucks are dark brown, black, and white and have long, twisted horns, while females are fawn-coloured with no horns.

Blackbucks originally ranged over large tracts of India except in the northeast. Today, the blackbuck population is confined to areas in Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, with a few small pockets in central India. Blackbucks generally live on open plains in herds of 15 to 20 animals with one dominant male. They are very fast. Speeds of more than 80 km/h (50 mph) have been recorded. Their chief predator was the now extinct Indian cheetah. They are now sometimes preyed upon by wolves and feral dogs. The diet of the blackbuck consists mostly of grasses, although it will eat pods, flowers and fruits to supplement its diet. The maximum life span recorded is 16 years and the average is 12 years.

The main threats to the species are poaching, predation, habitat destruction, overgrazing, diseases, and inbreeding and sanctuary visitors. . During the 18th, 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries, blackbuck was the most hunted wild animal all over India. Today, only small herds are seen, largely inside reserves. The chief cause of their decline is excessive hunting for its flesh and its skin. Like most wild animals, the blackbuck is in principle protected in India by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. The blackbuck population is stable, with 50,000 native individuals, plus an additional 43,000 descended from individuals introduced to Texas and Argentina. The species can be seen in zoos.

The Karera Wildlife Sanctuary of Madhya Pradesh, India is well scattered over an area that measures about 202 square kilometers with respect to the vast span of landscape it covers. The Wildlife Sanctuary is situated at a distance of approximately 55 kilometers from the region named as Shivpuri. It is indeed a bird-viewer’s paradise as the sanctuary houses an entire caboodle of avian creatures that includes the extremely rare Indian Bustard which is facing the grave danger of being completely wiped out from the face of our planet. Karera is one of the last refuges of the great Indian bustard. As per expert studies, one can find three types of bustards thrive here, the Indian bustard, bearded bustard, and coloured bustard. The status of the Karera is that of the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary and it was notified in 1981 as a sanctuary. The vegetation is reverie and swamp with mixed deciduous forests. Ber bushes and other wild plants are found in abundance. There are no trees except acacia throughout this forest.

The region around Karera is quite dry and rocky but one can feel more relaxed at the Dihaila Jheel. Entirely rainfed, the size and depth of the lake depend on the monsoons. Across the waters lay Dihila village whose inhabitants own and use the land forming the lakebed and whose crops have benefited from the gauano deposite of the birds. There are many migratory birds that settle here in the season. In fact, experts have recorded a total of 245 bird species in Karera. There are pintails, teals, and gadwalls snoozing in the sun or squatting meditatively in the mud. There are resident water birds too like the black-bellied river terns, egrets, and spoonbills. Other birds found here are herons, Indian robins, as also insects like dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies.

Source: www.wildlifeinindia.in & Wikipedia

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