Apart from providing refuge to various species of vultures and other wildlife, the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has also proved to be a safe haven for the four-horned antelope or Chousingha (
Tetracerus quadricornis
).

The images of the antelope (
Ula man
in local parlance) were captured by camera traps installed in the Ottipara section of the forest under the sanctuary recently.

This is the first time the animal was photographed in the forest area of the State, though its sighting was reported in the sanctuary a few years ago, N.T. Sajan, warden, told
The Hindu
.

“We have been closely monitoring the Varalam and Kavanahalla forest areas in the Sulthan Bathery forest range of the sanctuary, adjoining the Rampur reserved forest in Karnataka, for confirming the presence of the animal for the past 10 months,” Mr. Sajan said adding that they had set up 15 camera traps in these areas for the purpose. The photographs of a female and a male sub-adult were captured.

“When the male antelope attains maturity it will have four horns and this speciality distinguished the animal from other bovines,” O. Vishnu, conservation biologist of the sanctuary, said. The animal is included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act and also in the vulnerable category of the IUCN .

“The antelope is diurnal (active mainly during the day) and usually found in dry deciduous forests. Though solitary in nature, it may form loose groups of three to five, with one or more adults, sometimes accompanied by juveniles,” Mr. Vishnu said.

The four-horned antelope was threatened by the loss of its natural habitat, he said. Moreover, the unusual four-horned skull and the horns had been a popular target for trophy hunters, he added. There are nearly 10,000 of them in the country according to the latest census.

“We are planning a comprehensive project for conservation of the species,” Mr. Sajan said.

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