HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: For the first time in Nepal, Krishna Pokharel, a Nepali wildlife biologist in Bardia National Park, has captured in his lens the four-horned Antelope (Chausingha), a rare wildlife species.
Pokharel, a PhD scholar at the University of Freiburg, Germany, who has been researching this rare species says, “Many don’t know this species is found in Nepal and no care has been given to it, an important food for the tiger and leopard.”
The four-horned antelope is found only in Nepal and India, but intensive study on it has not been conducted. A research in India revealed that about 13 per cent of the total diet of the tiger is the four-horned antelope, but its population has not been estimated both in India and Nepal.
It is estimated that 95 per cent of the this species is found in India and the remaining five per cent in Nepal. “As its availability is very specific(India and Nepal) and the number is also very low. International Union Nature Conservation (IUCN) has categorised it as a vulnerable species” said Pokharel. It is one of the least known mammalian species and its management is largely hampered by lack of basic information. “Many people, even some wildlife researchers and managers, know nothing about its presence in Nepal. A year ago, a study was carried out in Babai Valley in Bardia where we were able to photograph it with automatic cameras for the first time,” Pokharel said.
The first phase of the study found that this antelope uses most of its resources from the hilly area along the Churia range, mainly Sal dominated and mixed forest with deciduous trees. This species has also been recorded in Chitwan National Park. The species has four horns on its head, of which the two front horns are small( 4-5 cm) and the rear horns are long and pointed up to 15 cm. Interestingly, the female four-horned antelope has no horn and it’s difficult to identify it as it looks like barking deer.
“The biggest threat to this species is forest fires, which destroy its food,” said Pokharel.