Habitat use and diurnal activity budget of blue bulls (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in the Lumbini Heritage Site, Nepal

  • Priyanka Pandey Central Department of Zoology, Institute of Science and Technology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Naresh Pandey Central Department of Zoology, Institute of Science and Technology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Laxman Khanal Central Department of Zoology, Institute of Science and Technology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
Keywords: Bovids; Focal animal sampling; Habitat use; Land cover; Lumbini


Blue bulls (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in Nepal are found near human settlements, crop fields and forest patches of lowland Terai. This study explored habitat use and diurnal activity pattern of blue bulls at the Lumbini Heritage Site (LHS), one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites from Nepal between 29 February and 31 March 2022. The habitat availability was quantified from classified land use land cover data of 10m resolution and habitat use of the blue bulls was studied by direct observation. The activities of the blue bulls were recorded by using focal animal sampling method to determine the diurnal time budget for three observational phases 7:00–10:30AM, 10:30–2:00PM, and 2:00–5:30PM; morning, afternoon and late-afternoon, respectively. The behavioral states recorded were grazing, locomotion, resting, alert and other activities (running, fighting, etc.). A total of 73 individuals of blue bulls were recorded along the 20 line transects each of 200–300m in length. The majority of the blue bull individuals (52.05%) were observed in grassland that occupied only 7.14% of the LHS while lesser were found in dense forests (44.44% of the LHS) and agricultural land. Blue bulls spent the majority of their diurnal time on feeding followed by resting and locomotion. Feeding peaked during the morning and late-afternoon observational phases when the temperature was low whereas resting was the major activity in the afternoon. Because the grasslands are the most used habitats by blue bulls in the LHS, especially on feeding, we emphasize for the proper management of the grasslands.


Altmann, J. 1974. Observational study of behavior: Sampling methods. Behaviour 49(3-4):227–266.

Altmann, J. and Samuels, A. 1992. Costs of maternal care: Infant-carrying in baboons. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 29(6):391–398.

Aryal, A. 2007. Blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in Lumbini– A world heritage site of Nepal. Tiger Paper 32:4–9.

Aryal, M., Panthi, S., Bhatta, M., Magrati, T. P., Shrestha, A. K., Shrestha, P. B., et al. 2016. Population status, distribution and potential threats of the blue bull Boselaphus tragocamelus (Mammalia: Cetartiodactyla: Bovidae) along the Tinau River of Rupandehi District, Nepal. Journal of Threatened Taxa 8(14):9638–9642.

Babbar, B. K., Singla, N., Kaur, H., Verma, M., Rani, K., Bala, B., et al. 2022. Bio-ecology, behaviour and management of blue bull, Boselaphus tragocamelus. International Journal of Pest Management. https://doi.org/10.1080/09670874.2022.2104402

Bagchi, S., Goyal, S. and Sankar, K. 2003. Habitat separation among ungulates in dry tropical forests of Ranthambhore National Park, Rajasthan. Tropical Ecology 44(2):175–182.

Bawri, M. and Saikia, P. K. 2014. Diurnal activity budgeting pattern of Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee Kerr, 1792) in Kaziranga National Park, Assam. Golden Research Thoughts 3(9):1–8.

Bayani, A., & Watve, M. 2016. Differences in behaviour of the nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) during foraging in forest versus in agricultural land. Journal of Tropical Ecology 32(6):469–481. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266467416000420

Berger-Tal, O., Polak, T., Oron, A., Lubin, Y., Kotler, B. P. and Saltz, D. 2011. Integrating animal behavior and conservation biology: a conceptual framework. Behavioral Ecology 22(2):236–239. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arq224

Bhattarai, K. R., and Baral, S. R. 2008. Potential role of sacred grove of Lumbini in biodiversity conservation in Nepal. Banko Janakari 18(1):25–31. https://doi.org/10.3126/banko.v18i1.2163

Blanford, W. T. 1888. The Fauna of British India, Mammalia. Taylor and Francis, London. https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.97003

Bohra, H., Goyal, S., Ghosh, P. and Prakash, I. 1992. Studies on ethology and eco-physiology of the antelopes of the Indian desert. Annals of Arid Zone 31(2):83–96.

Chauhan, N. and Singh, R. 1990. Crop damage by overabundant populations of nilgai and blackbuck in Haryana (India) and its management. Proceedings of the Fourteenth Vertebrate Pest Conference 1990. p. 13.

DDC. 2000. Annual Report of the District Development Committee Rupandehi District. Nepal.

DDC. 2013. Annual Report of the District Development Committee Rupandehi District. Nepal.

Dinerstein, E. 1979. An ecological survey of the Royal Karnali-Bardia Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Part I: vegetation, modifying factors, and successional relationships. Biological Conservation 15(2):127–150.

Ensing, E. P., Ciuti, S., de Wijs, F. A., Lentferink, D. H., Ten Hoedt, A., Boyce, M. S., et al. 2014. GPS based daily activity patterns in European red deer and North American elk (Cervus elaphus): indication for a weak circadian clock in ungulates. PLoS One 9(9):e106997. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106997

Gajera, N., Mahato, A. K. R. and Kumar, V. V. 2014. Habitat preference and social composition of antelopes in arid region of Kachchh, Gujarat, India. Asian Journal of Conservation Biology 3:164–169.

Gorchiya, A., Jadav, D. and Singh Shekhawat, R. 2022. An unusual attack by a blue bull resulting in penetrating horn injuries. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 33(2):232–235. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wem.2021.12.003

Goyal, S. and Rajpurohit, L. 2000. Nilgai, Boselaphus tragocamelus- a mammalian crop pest around Jodhpur. Uttar Pradesh Journal of Zoology 20(1):55–59.

Hamel, S. and Côté, S. D. 2008. Trade-offs in activity budget in an alpine ungulate: contrasting lactating and nonlactating females. Animal Behaviour 75(1):217–227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.04.028

Hudson, R. J. and Frank, S. 1987. Foraging ecology of bison in aspen boreal habitats. Journal of Range Management 40(1):71–75.

IUCN SSC Antelope Specialist Group. 2016. Boselaphus tragocamelus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T2893A115064758. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T2893A50182076.en

Karanth, K. K., Nichols, J. D., Hines, J. E., Karanth, K. U. and Christensen, N. L. 2009. Patterns and determinants of mammal species occurrence in India. Journal of Applied Ecology 46(6):1189–1200.

Karra, K., Kontgis, C., Statman-Weil, Z., Mazzariello, J. C., Mathis, M. and Brumby, S. P. 2021. Global land use / land cover with Sentinel 2 and deep learning, 2021 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium IGARSS, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 4704–4707, http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/IGARSS47720.2021.9553499

Khan, K. A., & Khan, J. A. 2016. Status, abundance and population ecology of Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus Pallas) in Aligarh District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Journal of Applied and Natural Science 8(2):1080–1086.

Khanal, S., Aryal, A., Morley, C. G., Wright, W. and Singh, N. B. 2018. Challenges of conserving blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) outside the protected areas of Nepal. Proceedings of the Zoological Society 71:352–362. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12595-017-0218-y.

Khatri, T. 1993. Status and food habit of Nilgai in Royal Bardia National Park. M. Sc. Thesis. Agricultural University of Norway. p. 65.

Kuijper, D. P., Cromsigt, J. P., Churski, M., Adam, B., Jędrzejewska, B. and Jędrzejewski, W. 2009. Do ungulates preferentially feed in forest gaps in European temperate forest? Forest Ecology management 258(7):1528–1535. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2009.07.010

Leslie, D. M., Jr. 2008. Boselaphus Tragocamelus (Artiodactyla: Bovidae). Mammalian Species 813:1–16. https://doi.org/10.1644/813.1.

Mahato, A., Majumder, S., De, J. and Ramakrishna, A. 2013. Activities of Blue bull, Boselaphus tragocamelus during partial solar eclipse: a case study in captivity. Ethology Ecology Evolution 25(3):269–274. https://doi.org/10.1080/03949370.2013.767860

Mallon, D. 2017. Boselaphus tragocamelus (2008). IUCN red list of Threatened species version 2013. International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Mirza, Z. and Khan, M. 1975. Study of distribution, habitat and food of nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus in Punjab. Pakistan Journal of Zoology 7:209–214.

Nowak, R. M. and Walker, E. P. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. JHU Press. p. 1936

Oguya, B. and Eltringham, S. 1991. Behaviour of nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) antelope in captivity. Journal of Zoology 223(1):91–102.

Prasad, S. and Prabhakar, C. S. 2020. Docility behavioral development in Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), a sign of taming towards domestication. Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology 39(41):30–39.

Prajapati, M. and Singh, S. 1994. A beneficial aspect of Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in scientifically utilised ravines-an observation. Indian Forester 120(10):890–897.

Quasin, S., Mahato, A. K. R., Ganguly, K. and De, J. K. 2014. Activity pattern of blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in captivity at zoological garden, Kolkata, India. International Journal of Pure and Applied Zoology 2(3):275–280.

Rahman, T. and Candolin, U. 2022. Linking animal behaviour to ecosystem change in disturbed environments. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 2022:893453. https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2022.893453

Rahmani, A. R. 2001. India. In: D.P. Mallon & S.C. Kingswood (Eds.), Antelopes. Part 4: North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Global Survey and Regional Action Plans, pp. 178–187. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

Rosenbaum, B., Reading, R. P., Tsogtjargal, G., Amgalanbaatar, S. and Comte, S. 2019. Seasonal variation in the foraging activity of desert argali (Ovis ammon) in Mongolia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 97(10):931–939. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2018-0239

Sankar, K. and Vijayan, V. 1992. Notes on the food habits of nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 89:115–116.

Schaller, G. B. 2009. The Deer and the Tiger: Study of Wild Life in India. University of Chicago Press. p. 384.

Schweiger, A. K., Schütz, M., Anderwald, P., Schaepman, M. E., Kneubühler, M., Haller, R., et al. 2015. Foraging ecology of three sympatric ungulate species–behavioural and resource maps indicate differences between chamois, ibex and red deer. Movement ecology 3(1):1–12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40462-015-0033-x

Shah, R., Tripathi, S. and Bhatta, B. 2017. Translocation of Wild Asian Buffalo (Bubalus arnee): a way forward to conservation in Nepal. Proceedings of the International Buffalo Symposium.

Sheffield Jr, W. J., Ables, E. D. and Fall, B. A. 1971. Geographic and ecological distribution of nilgai antelope in Texas. The Journal of Wildlife Management 35(2):250–257. https://doi.org/10.2307/3799598

Subedi, N. 2001. Status and ecology of Nilgai in Nepal with particular emphasis on Royal Bardia National Park. M. Sc. Dissertation. Centre for International Environment and Development Studies, Agricultural University of Norway, Norway.

Vaghela, M. V., Dodia, P. P. and Shukla A. H. 2020. Study on group composition of blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) In Bhavnagar District, Gujarat, India. Ela Journal of Forestry and Wildlife 9(3): 747–754.

How to Cite
Pandey, P., Pandey, N., & Khanal, L. (2022). Habitat use and diurnal activity budget of blue bulls (Boselaphus tragocamelus) in the Lumbini Heritage Site, Nepal. Nepalese Journal of Zoology , 6(2), 25-34. https://doi.org/10.3126/njz.v6i2.51880
Research Articles