I happened to be riding a bicycle through Keoladeo Ghana National Park, enjoying the landscape while listening to the chattering sounds and songs of exotic birds, when I felt the need to relieve myself.
I stepped off my bike and scurried into the undergrowth, to find myself face-to-face with a very large antelope like creature I had never seen before. He stood in front of me like a forged iron blue statue, tranquil as the mythical unicorn, so close I could smell his breath and feel the steely stare from his dark black eyes. I felt like an uninvited guest that had just arrived in his front room. What was probably no more than a few seconds felt like an age, as though time had stopped for this encounter.
I gently reversed and made my exit while I could, thinking as I quickly peddled away how accepting this large wild animal had been of me. I later found out that farmers tolerate this animal while it gorges itself on their crops, without fail, every morning and evening.
The Hindu name for this indigenous Asian antelope is Nilgai, which translates as Blue Bull reflecting its similarity to a cow (which of course is sacred to Hindus, as the cow from Vedic texts symbolises the Earth, ‘Mother of gods and men’).
Male calves match the sandy brown coats of their mothers but as they get older, the colour slowly changes through grey to iron-blue.