A stranger horns in on the herd

Blackbuck antelop Fergus.

Blackbuck antelop Fergus.

HE was just a single male on the roam, looking for some action.

But when you’re a blackbuck antelope and show up among the beef cattle at a farm near Timboon, you’re bound to attract attention.

The antelope first made his surprise appearance on the farm a few months ago. There he made himself at home playing with calves, which were comparable in height. 

But his big horns gave him away and news of the agile bovid soon reached the media.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) swung into action and with the help of a private veterinarian the antelope was tranquillised and captured. The private Mansfield Zoo offered to be the buck’s new home. Staff there have named him Fergus.

DEPI biosecurity operations manager Mark Watt said Fergus was recovering well and would soon join fellow antelopes in the zoo’s public viewing enclosure. 

Mr Watt said blackbuck antelopes were a declared pest animal in Victoria and could not be kept without permission from DEPI. 

“The blackbuck antelope  (Antilope cervicapra) is native to parts of India, Pakistan and Nepal and could potentially have serious impacts on agricultural production and biodiversity in Victoria,” Mr Watt said.

“The plan to rehouse the antelope was negotiated by DEPI and was based on the animal’s welfare,” he said. 

He said investigations were ongoing into where Fergus had come from but the likely source was that it had been kept illegally somewhere.

Mr Watt said if people had information about the source of the antelope, they should contact DEPI on 136 186 or email highrisk.invasiveanimals@depi.vic.gov.au 

“The illegal keeping and trading of exotic animals poses one of the greatest risks of new pest animals establishing in Victoria and Australia,” he said. 

Mr Watt said high-risk invasive animals include non-indigenous reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds that have not established in Victoria.

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