- Relocating plants and animals across continents and habitats is always a dangerous business. One can never quite say how the new entrants will interact with existing flora and fauna. But sometimes these relocations can prove strangely beneficial.
Consider the Indian blackbuck:
- By some estimates, there were some four million blackbucks across the subcontinent right up to the early 1900s.
- For centuries, hunting these beautiful beasts had been a favourite sport of local nobility.
- Mughal princes, minor chieftains and European adventurers, all found the challenge of hunting this swift, cagey animal irresistible.
- Indeed, the blackbuck was a standard feature of many Indian princely coats-of-arms.
- Sometime in the 1930s or 1940s—a date commonly cited is 1932 but this is hard to verify—blackbucks from India were introduced in Texas for the first time.
- A small population was imported into private ranches in Kerr County.
- The population grew, periodically bolstered by imports, and by around 1979 there were just short of 10,000 blackbucks in Texas.
- Indeed, so enthusiastically had the creatures taken to their new home that on at least two occasions, small numbers of antelopes were exported from Texas to Pakistan in the hope of re-establishing the extinct local blackbuck population.
Relocation efforts in other countries
- Texas had not been alone in this experiment
- Blackbucks had also been imported into South America and Australia
- While the Australian test appears to have failed, the blackbuck thrives in Argentina, where it lives in some of the most massive herds of its type anywhere on the planet
- Yet, somewhat remarkably, many estimates suggest that the US and Argentina together today account for a greater population of the animal than its native home in the Indian subcontinent
- Even as the animal thrived abroad, thanks to legislation in the 1970s and conservation efforts that followed, the population of the blackbuck in India has undergone a recovery.
- The most recent estimate in an International Union for Conservation of Nature report suggests that there are at least 35,000 mature adult individuals in India. Yet, somewhat remarkably, many estimates suggest that the US and Argentina together today account for a greater population of the animal than its native home in the Indian subcontinent.