Nilgai Antelope

nilgai bull

(Boselaphus tragocamelus)  India, Nepal and Pakistan.  Also known as “Blue Bulls” or “Blue Bucks”.

ID

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 bulls fighting

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.

Food 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.

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.

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

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 atleast 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.

Nilgai Hunting

Prices to hunt nilgai bulls generally range from $2500 to $4000 –> avg. cost is ~ $3300.  Check out our ‘Find A Hunt’ section for featured outfitters.

Scoring Your Trophy Nilgai Antelope

SCI Record Book Minimums:

(N. America - Introduced - Free Range)

  Standard Bow
Bronze 25" 22"
Silver 31 1/8" --"
Gold 33" 29 3/8"

Current Record(s) Held:

Rifle #1 - 41 & 4/8 - Ken Wilson

Archery #1 - 39 & 7/8 - Davis Wilkins (pictured)

Current Record Holder for TrophyNilgai Antelope

Score Your Trophy

Nilgai Antelope Trophy Score Sheet

Click here to find an official Safari Club International (SCI) Measurer.