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Literally translated, nilgai means ‘blue cow’. This is because of the male’s blue/grey colouring in maturity. The males also have a distinctive throat tuft and short, conical horns that they use to fight other males in the breeding season.  In contrast, the female is hornless and her coat is a light brown colour.

These large antelopes, native to India, Nepal and Pakistan, mostly live in separate male and female grazing herds and are known for their sharp senses and extreme wariness. When chased by a predator like a tiger or wild dog, nilgai can run at speeds of up to 29 miles per hour.

Despite the fact that the nilgai is considered sacred in Hindu culture, they still suffer from habitat loss and are often poached by local farmers due to their preference for agricultural crops.

Conservation status | Least concern

Fact Sheet

Scientific name

Boselaphus tragocamelus






12 to 13 years in the wild, about 21 years in captivity

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