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Blackbuck antelope

Alert

Have you seen Blackbuck antelope?

Be on the lookout for Blackbuck antelope and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling Blackbuck antelope.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to parts of India, Pakistan and Nepal, blackbuck antelopes are highly prized by hunters and are occasionally released for sport in other countries. Feral populations of blackbuck have established in the USA and Argentina.

In Australia, blackbuck antelopes were first introduced to Western Australia in the early 1900s, and illegally introduced to Queensland's Cape York in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The Cape York population has since been eradicated.

Blackbuck are climatically suited to north Queensland and are likely to establish there if reintroduced. To prevent blackbuck from establishing in Queensland, restrictions apply to their import, possession and sale.

The blackbuck antelope is a restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Antilope cervicapra

Other names

  • Indian blackbuck antelope, Indian antelope

Description

  • Antelope with body 100-150cm long, shoulder height 60-85cm.
  • Males have distinctive, spiralling horns up to 80cm long, are dark colour, weigh 20-55kg.
  • Females do not usually have horns, are yellowish-fawn, weigh 20-35kg.
  • Both sexes are white around eyes, on chin and on underparts, including lower chest and insides of legs.
  • ‘Blackbuck’ refers to dark colour of males, which gradually darken from age of 2.

Habitat

  • Prefers tropical and subtropical savanna/rangeland and grassland.
  • May also inhabit dry deciduous forest, woodland, semi-desert habitats, riverbanks and pasture.

Distribution

  • Small population was illegally released on Cape York in late 1980s or early 1990s but eradicated after several years of control strategies.

Life cycle

  • Life expectancy up to 18 years in wild.
  • Mating can occur throughout year, usually peaks twice per year.
  • Females are sexually mature at 15 months and produce 1-2 offspring per year.
  • Gestation is 5-6 months.
  • Young are weaned at 2 months.

Crops affected

  • Sorghum, millet, pasture, various cereal and pulse crops.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Can damage grassland ecosystems.
  • Can spread weed seeds.

Economic

  • Can compete with cattle and sheep for food.
  • If established, control programs are costly and resource-intensive.

Social

  • Can be traffic hazard.
  • Can damage fences.
  • Are popular target for recreational hunting.

Natural enemies

  • Wolves, wild dogs, big cats such as tiger and Asiatic cheetah.

Control

  • Shooting is an option but unlikely to eradicate feral populations. Hunting is limited by inaccessible nature of Cape York and restrictions on shooting in national parks.
  • Trapping is another option.
  • In Texas, USA, feral blackbuck declined due to predation by coyotes and disease caused by internal and external parasites.
  • Early detection is essential for preventing pest establishment. If you have seen or are in possession of a blackbuck antelope, please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

  • The blackbuck antelope is a restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, fed, given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings are to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of blackbuck antelope escaping until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information