This is the home of the Indian black buck. Velavadar in the Bhal region of Saurashtra is a unique grassland ecosystem that has attracted fame for the successful conservation of the black buck - the fastest of the Indian antelopes.
Driving through the Velavadar National Park seems like a trip through the African savannahs with similar landscapes of grasslands populated with herds of antelope. Velavadar has the greatest population of blackbuck antelope among all sanctuaries and national parks in India.
THE GRACEFUL BLACK BUCK
Once found in open plains throughout the country and the state of Gujarat, its largest population at present occurs in Velvadar National Park. This exclusively Indian animal is perhaps the most graceful and beautiful of its kind. The fastest of the Indian antelopes, they move off in a series of leaps and bounds, when threatened and then break into a lightening run.
It has ringed horns that have a spiral twist of three to four turns and are upto 70 cm long. The body's upper parts are black and the underparts and a ring around the eyes are white. The female, light brown in colour is usually hornless.
The males are a deep black colour set off by an equally striking white and have long spiralling horns. They fight for supremacy during the rutting season, with the strongest males taking the most coveted territories. The females and immature males are light brown and white in colour and the former are hornless.
THE WILD POPULATION
The grey wolf breeds here and foxes, jackals and jungle cats can also be sighted. The roosting of harrier hawks at dusk is an incredible sight. More than 1,500 can be seen gathering at a single site.
THE NATURE FRIENDLY KATHI COMMUNITY
A word of praise would not be out of place for the Kathi community who like the Bishnoi community have protected the black buck with vigour and zeal as it is associated with their past history of valour and religious practices.