Intro to the Nilgai Antelope
Nilgai are a large antelope species that more resemble a horse than a bull in stature and body structure. Stand 4 to 5 feet at the shoulder. Shoulders are set higher than hindquarters giving a long, slanting appearance. Born brown, coat color or males changes to blue-gray or charcoal as animal matures. Females remain brown. Narrow rump patch and throat bib are white, as well as 2 patches above each ankle and 2 small spots on check and jawline. Males grow sharp, devil-like horns that grow up and curve slightly forward. Average horn length is 6 to 10". Females usually lack horns, but occur on occasion. Horn bases become more triangular with age. Bulls have a unique "beard" of hair that hangs from their neck that seems to resemble that found on a male turkey. Males weigh up to 675 lbs.; females up to 470 lbs. (See Video Below)
Nilgai Antelope behavior
Avoid dense habitat. Prefer plains and grasslands with some brush. Can survive days without water, but generally live close the water sources. Not territorial though they do utilize dung piles. Males and females remain separated except during breeding season. Older males are often solitary. Nilgai are known to be aggressive in tight quarters, needing ample space to be compatible. Bulls often fight to cause injury or death, not just for dominance and breeding rights. Competitors drop to their knees and press their foreheads together, wrestling and pushing against each other with their muscular necks (see picture). This behavior of kneeling to fight is also observed in fights between sable antelope males.
Nilgai Antelope food and eating habits
Eat grass, browse, fruits, pods, and flowers. prefer grass, but uses browse for additional nutrition that grass can not. Fruits, flower, etc. are used to supplement diet as well.
Nilgai Antelope breeding
Season usually falls from December to March, but some breeding year round. With a gestation period of a little over 8 months, peak birthing is seen in September and October, but can occur all year. Females give birth to 1 or 2 young and sometimes 3. Twin births occur 60% of the time. Males mature at 2.5 years of age, while females usually begin breeding at 1.5 years.
Nilgai Antelope average life span
Nilgai have a life span of around 20-22 years in captivity and about half of that (10 to 12 years) in the wild.
Keeping Nilgai Antelope
Compete with, and sometimes kill, eland bulls. Can be aggressive toward humans during rut or in confined spaces. May become a menace to those maintaining agricultural crop fields. High fence of at least 7 feet usually needed to contain. Jump standard 4.5 ft. with ease. Some cover required. Susceptible to winter kill when snow or ice hides forage.