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      Nature Report: Nilgai Antelope

      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. No one knows their exact numbers, but there are probably more than 50,000 nilgai roaming the large ranches north of Raymondville. Indeed, on some properties east of Highway 77, there are more nilgai than native whitetail deer. A mature bull can easily exceed 500 pounds, and with a formidable set of sharp horns they are unlikely to fall prey to South Texas coyotes. 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 south into Mexico. Helen Kleberg Groves, great granddaughter of King Ranch founder Richard King remembers when the first nilgai were brought to the ranch and given to Caesar Kleberg. Helen Kleberg Groves, Great granddaughter of Richard King, "I don't know who gave them to him, but somebody gave him a pair of nilgai, which they promptly named Valentine and Valentina." This initial pair did not reproduce, but a later introduction was successful. Groves, "So he and my father talked it over and decided to get some more of these creatures, and they got them from the San Diego Zoo|so they got five males and seven females, and they brought them here and put them down in the live oaks|and they all came from that." With no natural predators and habitat similar to their native land, nilgai have proliferated and become very popular game animals with South Texas hunters. With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore