The Chinkara animal is a species of gazelle native to Southern Asia. They are commonly known as ‘Indian Gazelle’. They can be found on arid plains and hills, deserts, dry scrub, and light forests. In India, they can be found in over 80 protected areas. They are the official state animal of Rajasthan.
The Bishnois, a Hindu community primarily found in Rajasthan's Thar Desert, consider the chinkara and blackbuck as sacred animals. Despite the fact that the Bishnois protect the chinkara, it is still heavily hunted by other communities.
Leopards, Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions, and dholes prey on chinkaras. In India, the chinkara, along with blackbucks, was a common prey of the Asiatic cheetah. The chinkara is being hunted for meat and trophies in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.
What is Chinkara?
Gazella bennetti, also known as the Indian gazelle, is a member of the Bovidae family, which also includes sheep, goats, bison, and the domestic cow.
Chinkaras are found all over the world, from India to Afghanistan to Iran and Pakistan.
These animals are found in dry plains, deserts, forests, and dry scrubs.
These animals can be found at elevations of 4,000 feet above sea level in some areas (Pakistan).
These animals frequently travel in groups of up to four people, though lone travellers are not uncommon.
In the wild, chinkaras have a plethora of natural predators. Big cats like Bengal tigers and leopards are among these predators. Indian wild dogs, also known as dholes, have been observed attacking chinkaras in the wild.
Characteristics of Chinkara
The chinkara is approximately 3 feet tall and weighs 15-23 kg and has a life span of 12-15 years.
It has lyrate horns (females have smaller horns), sandy-brown upperparts, white underparts, a cocky black tail, and long, slender legs.
Their summer coat is reddish-buff with smooth, glossy fur. In the winter, their coat lightens to almost white. Their reddish coat colour helps them hide from predators in the grassland.
Despite being found in open scrub, thorn forests, open dry deciduous forests, and arid and semi-arid areas, the elegant and delicate creature thrives in the desert.
Chinkaras are tough animals that can survive on dew droplets on plant surfaces and other fluids found within plant vegetation. They can also go for long periods without drinking water.
Chinkara are shy creatures who avoid human contact.
They spend the majority of their time alone, but can occasionally form small groups of up to four animals.
Males are territorial, and they will chase away other males from their territory.
These gazelles are extremely agile, running in leaps and bounds and jumping up to 6-7 metres in height.
When they are threatened, they will stamp their forefoot and hiss through their nose.
Feeding Habits of Chinkara
Chinkara prefers to feed at night and is most active just before and during sunset.
Chinkaras eat plants (folivores, frugivores).
They eat grasses, various leaves, and fruits (melon, pumpkin).
These gazelles can go for days without water, relying on fluids from the plants they eat and dew.
Mating Habits of Chinkara
Males compete for females during the breeding season, suggesting that these gazelles are polygynous.
Chinkara reproduces twice a year, once in late August-October and again in March-April.
Females typically give birth to a single calf after a gestation period of 5 to 5.5 months.
Calves are born fully formed and nursed for two months.
When another calf is born, it can stay with its mother for up to 12 months. Females in this species reach reproductive maturity at one year of age, while males reach reproductive maturity at two years of age.
Major Threats of Chinkara
Chinkara may play an important role in their ecosystem as seed dispersers due to their habit of eating fruits.
According to the IUCN, the chinkara is also classified as "Vulnerable." This is because chinkaras are frequently hunted for their meat in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
Poaching and habitat destruction are two other threats.
However, India has a much more stable population, with over 1 lakh people, 80,000 of whom live in the Thar Desert.
Overhunting for meat and trophies in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan is the most serious threat to Chinkara.
Another major threat is habitat loss as a result of agricultural and industrial expansion, as well as overgrazing.
Conservation of Chinkara
In India, the chinkara can be found in over 80 protected areas.
The chinkara is currently not in danger of becoming extinct because it is found in many well-protected areas.
In January 2016, the Karnataka government issued a notification to establish a chinkara sanctuary in the Yadahalli village of the state's Bagalkot district.
In May 2019, the Karnataka Government also declared the Bukkapatna Chinkara Wildlife Sanctuary in the Tumakuru district.
It will disappear from many areas of the Thar Desert if the dog population is not controlled.
The chinkara is protected in five areas of Iran and five areas of Pakistan.
This article talks about the beautiful animal, Chinkara deer which is found in Pakistan, India, and Iran. They are also known as gazelles. They are small creatures, standing 65cm tall and weighing around 26 kilogrammes. Their coats are typically reddish-brown, with a white stomach. They are approximately seen in nine states of India and have 80 protected areas for them. Chinkara's image is very captivating and very delicate, and looks like a ballerina dancing on the sand dunes.