Nilgai

Boselaphus tragocamelus

Common name:

Nilgai

Scientific name:

Boselaphus tragocamelus

Alternative common names:

Blue buck, Nilgau (French), Nilgo (Spanish). 

Nilgai antelopes are usually found in herds of about 10 animals, but larger groups of 20 to 70 have been seen. They have good eyesight and hearing that is equal to or better than the white-tail deer, but they do not have a good sense of smell. Though they are normally silent, they can make a roaring like vocalization when alarmed. When chased they can reach speeds up to 47km/h.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    India

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    NEMBA Category 2.

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    Free State and Eastern Cape.

    How does it spread?

    They escape from confined ranches.

    Why is it a problem?

    They damage crops, pastures and forestry plantations, and compete with livestock for pasture and can alter the structure composition of endangered ecological communities. They are capable of damaging native vegetation by browsing and trampling the under storey and seedling plants, and by ring-barking young trees.

    What does it look like?

    Description: Nilgai antelope are among the largest of the Asian antelopes. They stand about 120-150cm at the shoulder and have a body length of 180-200cm. They have a short coat which is yellow-brown in females and turns blue-grey in adult males. Calves are pale brown. The hair of the adult Nilgai antelope is thin and oily, but the skin is thick on the chest and neck of the males. There are patches of white on the face and below the chin. This extends into a broad, white "bib" on the throat. In males below the "bib" hangs a tuft of hair, or "beard" that can be as long as 13cm. Habitat: Nilgai antelopes live in dry areas with a variety of land types. They range from grassy, steppe woodlands, to hillsides. Breeding: Breeding groups consist of one dominant bull and one to many cows. Mating usually occurs from December to March, but breeding can occur through the year. The gestation period is 240-258 days and it is common for Nilgai antelopes to bear twins. Females can conceive at 18 months of age, but very few mate before 3 years of age. Males are sexually mature by 2 1/2 years of age, but cannot compete very well with other males until 4 years of age.