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Just what is a blackbuck?

By rediff Entertainment Bureau
Last updated on: February 17, 2006 23:16 IST
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Bollywood star Salman Khan has been sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of Rs 5,000 for killing two blackbuck deer.

If you have not been following the case in the long period of trial, here's a quick read to bring you up to speed.

The blackbuck, or the Antilope Cervicapra, is an endangered deer species found in Northern India and Nepal.

Salman Khan, controversy's child

Blackbucks were originally also found in Pakistan but were hunted to extinction, and now there are only small populations of them in captivity in very few places.

In 1932, some black bucks were released in Texas in the United States.

Male blackbucks -- which can be black or brown in colour -- are about 3 feet tall at the shoulder. The females -- generally light brown, like the fawns -- are slightly smaller. The males have long, spiral horns that can grow up to over 2 feet.

The average lifespan of a blackbuck is 12 to 16 years and it is one of the fastest animals in the world.

In India, it is protected by the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

In September 1998, during the shooting of the Sooraj Barjatiya film Hum Saath Saath Hain, Salman Khan went hunting with a group of co-actors that included Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu, Neelam Kothari and Satish Shah.

Is Salman's career doomed?

Salman shot two blackbucks in Mathania, Luni tehsil, Jodhpur district, and news reports have suggested that the actors had plans of eating the deer meat. Other reports have also suggested that hunting was a regular pastime for the stars.

However, the gunshots alerted the villagers. The Bishnoi villagers, who are well known for their animal conservation efforts – they consider wildlife sacred -- saw Salman and the dying blackbucks.

The stars fled, leaving the blackbucks behind. But the villagers had recognised Salman and noted the number of the their vehicle.

Salman and some others were booked by the Rajasthan forest department on charges of poaching of endangered animals.

The other co-accused have been acquitted in the case.

During the trial, Salman asked the judge to speed up the proceedings. The judge retorted that it was the actor who was missing from most of the hearings.

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