Climate Change & Environment Ecology Nature & Wildlife

Bad Karma chasing the black buck

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Even during the demonetisation days, black-bucks were not getting as much attention as they are getting now, so I can’t let go of this rare opportunity to torture yet another wild beast with my keyboard.

For us in Gujarat, there is a great opportunity of watching black-bucks in stunning background of Velvadar grasslands located barely 150 Km away from Ahmedabad.

Velavdar in early morning is a fantastic vista with long grass wearing shiny beads of dew and dancing gracefully to the flute played by wind. It is a rare place where morning sun arrives armed with Midas touch, and transforms the entire landscape into a shimmering sheet of soft velvety gold.

Just when you think that there is no room for improvement, God often decides to up the ante and make black-bucks appear of the scene.

A static herd of black-bucks is almost invisible in the landscape, but when they start running, your auditory cortex starts feeling as if a fast tempo Mozart composition is being played, forcing a group of ballerinas to unfreeze from a tableau and into a climax of a grand opera.

Black-buck opera is one of the finest productions of nature, and we are so fortunate that it is regularly conducted on Velavadar grassland, often by our beloved stray dogs.

My social media interactions with some really kind ladies and gents has educated me that God created the universe by first proclaiming that “Let there be stray dogs”, hence these divine creatures have a first right to our cities, villages, jungles and even nature reserves.

So, time and again stray dogs enter the park with a pious thought of honouring the black-bucks by adding them to their menu.

While mean and inconsiderate black-bucks try to escape from kind dogs desirous of merely disemboweling them and eating them alive, the Karma theoretician in me is forced to ponder over a deeper question.

Which bad Karma are chasing black-bucks that they are now getting chased by dogs and Bollywood stars?

As we now know that all Indian concepts can be explained by stretching science and imagination is equal proportions, I think I have found the answer.

Black-bucks suffer as they have sinned!

Science has found strong evidence of their criminal past hidden inside their genes.

While normal males of most species, including humans have their sex chromosomes in XY format, black-buck male carries them in XY1Y2 format. It is a genetic oddity as sex chromosomes normally come in pairs, X from female and Y from male.

Formats like XXY or XYY appear only when there is an error in formation of germ cells that are used for sexual reproduction. As these errors are not inherited in most cases, it is extremely rare to find animals like the black-buck.

The fact that black-bucks have stabilized with XY1Y2 suggests that they have passed through a genetic bottleneck induced, most probably because of their breeding strategy.

Black-buck males fight over females, and victorious male acquires right to breed with a large number of females. This leads to passing to dominant male’s genes to a large number of offspring, now armed with his vigour. As they compete with other males, there is further consolidation.

This process accelerates improvement, but is also detrimental to diversity in population as one super-powerful male’s genes can rapidly spread across a large part of population.

So, at some point in evolutionary history of black-bucks, a dominant male with XY1Y2 chromosomes must have appeared. For an unknown reason, XY1Y2 provided some edge in intra-male wars, allowing it to overwhelm the population.

As descendants of a Genghis Khan-ish lineage founded on defeat and destruction of a large number of males, black-bucks of today could be facing Karmic justice now, with dogs and actors a mere carriers of the divine justice system!

I am happy to admit that I have managed surviving till now with minimum effort as all my intellect has be used to avoid doing anything meaningful. As I needed to while all the free time I generated in course of being lazy, science has been my favorite muse that I have enjoyed company of. As an effort to kill time (in a way, to get even with it) one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers. After getting educated about the attention span of modern readers from my editor, it became more like a challenge to tackle esoteric subjects in 600 words that I have managed to remain interested in for more than a year now. I do not want to add my worldly profile here as these are ideas that need to be considered only on the merits they carry and not as an opinion of a certain human being.

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