Here's why blackbucks, the endangered species, are protected by the Bishnois:
Blackbucks, the antelopes are endangered species and are found in the plains, grasslands and scrubs of India, Nepal and Pakistan. They are the "state animal" of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab.
The Bishnoi community of Jodhpur consider the blackbuck to be the reincarnation of their religious Guru Bhagwan Jambeshwar also known as Guru Jambhoji.
Born in 1451, Jambhoji or Jambeshwar Bhagwan had advocated 29 commandments to his followers who came to be known as Bishnois. The word Bishnoi means followers of 29 virtue - bish is 20 and noi means nine.
The principles followed by Bishnois preach various aspects of brotherhood, penance, fighting social evils, reserving rights for women, wildlife preservation and kindness towards animals.
The Bishnoi community is known for thier love for nature worship and wildlife conservation. They are known to even sacrifice their life to save the blackbucks.
According to Bishnoi folklore, Jambhoji is believed to have instructed his followers that blackbuck was to be revered as his manifestation. When these animals, which are voracious eaters, raid the crop of the Bishnios, they prefer losing the crop than raising sticks or stones to drive them away.
Blackbucks, whose zoological name is Antelope Cervicapra, is considered the most handsome member of the bovine family. Though they are brown in colour when young, the colour of the upper body changes to black after four years.
Generally, the horns are present only in male blackbucks, but female blackbucks may develop horns as well. Blackbucks do not shed their horns.
In India, blackbucks can be spotted in Kanha National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Corbett National Park, Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Velavadar Blackbuck National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park, .
The population of blackbucks is on decline with rampant poaching and habitat destruction. Bishnois are leading the movement to not get the poachers punished but also protecting these rare species.