Shri Jasnath Asan, Rajasthan, India
Photo © Shri Jasnath Asan, 2016
25 NOV 2016
On our trip to Guda Bishnoiyan we were lucky enough to see a small herd of blackbuck near a grassy pond. The near threatened, blackbuck also known as the Indian antelope, is an antelope found in India and Nepal. The males have long, ringed horns, 35–75 centimeters long and beautiful white fur on the chin and around the eyes that is in sharp contrast with the black stripes on his face, back and the outside of his legs. In contrast females and juveniles are usually hornless and a pale yellowish fawn to tan in color.
Built to run on the open plains, blackbuck can reach velocities of up to 90kms per hour with strides up to 6m long and leaps up to 2m in height, making them one of the fastest animals on earth, only surpassed by the African cheetah. They are the quickest species left on the Indian subcontinent now that the Asiatic Cheetah, once in India, is extinct. Their agility, lightning speed, and high leaps protects the adults against most predators, but does not ensure their survival.
The conservation story is unfortunately a familiar one. Formerly a widespread species, only small scattered herds are seen today and are largely confined to protected areas. During the 20th century, blackbuck numbers declined sharply due to excessive hunting, poaching, deforestation as well as habitat degradation and fragmentation. One of the most powerful activist voices for the protection of the Blackbuck comes from the fervently conservationist Bisnoi communities in the region. Shri Jasnath Asan also is working diligently as well to protect and restore blackbuck habitat through their revegetation efforts at Karmlai.
These antelopes have earned a place of sacred respect in Hindu culture and hold a honored place as a heraldry symbol of several princely states of India.
Panchla Siddha, India
Sharon K. Schafer
I paint, photograph, and speak about wild places in an act of reciprocity that is as vital to me as heartbeat or breath.
My interest in the magic and mystery of the natural world lies at the intersection of art and science.
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