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The Endangered Chousingha, The four horned Antelope
Tetracerus Quadricornis(Four Horned Antelope)
This small, and rare antelope is found in open forestland in India and small pockets of Nepal.
The name, Chousingha is the Hindustani name for four horns.
It is the only species currently classified in the genus Tetracerus and under the endangered animals classifications it is currently listed as Vulnerable.
Chousingha stand at between 55-64 Cm's(22 to 25ins) at the shoulder and can weigh between 17-22 kilograms(37-49 lbs). They are of slender build with thin legs and short tails.there is a distinctive black stripe down the anterior of each leg , black patches on the back of the ears and face and muzzle.
Whilst the female has four teats, which can indicate a multiple birth, she has no horns, they are only found on the males.
It is the male that has the distinctive and unusual four horns. Two grow between the ears and two smaller ones further forward on the forehead, however not all males have four and in one of the subspecies the two forward horns are denoted by two hairless lumps. The first pair of horns generally appear at a few months old, the second pair growing in at between 10-14 months of age.
These horns are never shed, but can be damaged or lost during fights. Males become very aggressive in the mating season.
The Chousingha prefer open, dry, deciduous forest as their habitat and that preferably on a hilly terrain.They like these area with high grasses and dense undergrowth because they make for good cover and camouflage, also they need it to be close to a good water source as they are not a nomadic animal, in fact quite sedentary they need to drink a lot of water to survive, and they avoid human habitation complete Although mostly solitary animals they will form small groups, maybe up to four in number, and will make loud alarm calls when danger lurks. However they call to younger animals and other adults is a much quieter sound.
Their diet consists of soft leaves, various native and flowers, also grasses and roots.
They are a prey animal, and amongst their predators are Tigers, Leopards and Dholes (Wild Indian Dogs), also Wolves and even small cats.
Shy and Wary
These small, light boned antelope, are very shy and wary and can be very territorial. They run or walk with a jerky gait and hide away from prying eyes whenever possible. The mating season is between July and September(rainy season), and as was previously mentioned there can be more than one offspring produced at birth.
Although easily tamed they are terribly delicate and bad injuries can occur when in captivity.
Obviously to help increase numbers of this very vulnerable and rare antelope keeping them in captivity is sometimes necessary, but maybe if they are left alone in the wild and their habitats not systematically destroyed then they will have a chance.
Update on numbers. The latest data downloaded on 28Th March 2012 has put this species in the red zone of the iucn red list.