RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — Deep South Texas is home to many exotic or non-native species of animal, but certainly one of the largest and most abundant is the Nilgai antelope.
This group of young bulls is wading into a receding pond in the ranch country north of Raymondville. As they lower their heads to drink, the rich early morning light is reflected off their tawny coats.
The young males are already considerably larger than native whitetail deer. Later, when they mature they will have dark blue/gray coats, weigh more than 500 pounds and be referred to by some as blue bulls.
Originally, from India and Pakistan, they were introduced to South Texas by the King Ranch in the 1920’s and 30’s and have since spread all the way to the Rio Grande.
There are estimated to be some 15,000 nilgai roaming the ranch land primarily between Raymondville and Kingsville, likely more than exist in their native lands.
With no natural predators and habitat similar to their land of origin, nilgai have proliferated and become very popular game animals with South Texas hunters.
These young bulls engage in playful sparring, practicing for the time as mature adults when fights to the death will rage over females and territory.
After reaching maturity, they will wield longer horns that they will use to gore their opponent, sometimes getting down on their knees to stab their rival in the belly as this young bull ably demonstrates.
But today, in their adolescence they merely push one another around with their strong necks and powerful chests, sometimes rising up on their forelegs in a fascinating display of practice fighting.