Nylghau, Or Nil-ga
NYLGHAU, or NIL-GA I, one of the largest of the antelopes, a handsome and graceful animal, with short, straight, erect horns, pointed and turned slightly forwards a tuft of hair upon the throat. When adult the sexes are and legs, while the female and young are of a bright lightthe fetlocks are white, and the mane and tip of the tail black. The horns are black, and from 8 to 9 inches long. The male stands about 4 feet 4 inches high at the shoulder, the female is smaller. The tail is 18 to 21 inches in length.
The nylghau is one of the few true antelopes occurring in India, and is peculiar to that country, being found from near the foot of the Himalayas to the south of Mysore, though rare to the north of the Ganges and also in the extreme south. It is most abundant in central India, and does not occur in Assam or the countries to the east of the Bay of Bengal. It frequents forests and low jungles, though often found in tolerably open plains, associating in small herds. One, or very often two, young are produced at a birth, and when caught early they are readily tamed. They are often kept in captivity in the menageries of the native princes, and also in Europe, but the temper of the old males is uncertain. When fighting they drop on their knees, and then, advancing in this position until within convenient distance, make a sudden spring, butting with their horns with great force.
The first description of this animal, accompanied by a rude figure, was given by Dr Parsons in a paper entitled "An Account of a Quadruped brought from Bengal, and now to be seen in London," published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1745. No name was assigned to it, but the author identified it with an animal called " Biggel," seen in the stables of the viceroy of Con. by John Albert de Mandelsloe in his voyage through the Indies in 1638. In 1767 and the following years several living specimens were sent to England, from which Dr William Hunter drew up an excellent account of the characters of the male, female, and young, and of their habits in captivity, which, with a very spirited figure by Stubbs (often since copied), was published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1770. Dr Hunter was apparently unaware of Parsons's paper, and gives the animal the native name of "Nyl-ghau," signifying in Persian "blue bull." On Parsons's description Pallas founded his Antilope tragocamclus (Spicilegia Zoologica, i. p. 9, 1767), which was therefore its earliest specific name, though others have been used in later times, especially A. pieta, given by Pallas (Spicilegia, xii. p. 14, 1777) to the animal described by Hunter under the supposition that it was a different species. It has also had several generic names, Boselaphus, Damalis, Porlax, he., the first-named being the one to which preference is now usually given.