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Boselaphus tragocamelus1.jpg
Nilgauantilope Boselaphus tragocamelus Zoo Augsburg-07.jpg

The Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), also called the bluebuck or blue bull, is the largest Asian antelope (family Bovidae). The nilgai is indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, and Hindus accord it the same sacred status as cattle (both belong to the subfamily Bovinae). Accordingly, the nilgai is the only one of the four Indian antelopes that are still abundant. Nilgai is the Hindustani word for “blue cow,” which describes the blue-gray of adult bulls. (Cows are orange-brown.) The nilgai’s conformation, however, is more horselike than cowlike: it has a long neck with a short upright mane, a bony narrow head, a barrel-like chest, strong legs, and high withers sloping back to the croup. On the other hand, it has a hock-length cow’s tail that ends in a black tuft. Both sexes have similar markings; white areas include the cheek spots, ear tips, large throat bib, brisket, belly, rump patch, and underside of the tail. Its lower legs are banded black and white. Maximum contrast is achieved in prime males, which turn nearly black. They grow much bigger than cows, up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and 300 kg (660 pounds), compared with 214 kg (471 pounds) for cows; they also have a thicker neck and a tassel of black hair bordering the white bib. But the male’s cowlike horns are quite small, being 15–18 cm (6–7 inches) long.