A Four Horned Herbivore

A Four Horned Herbivore

Mistakenly considered as a deer, the four-horned deer is an antelope. Antelopes usually have spiral antlers and do not shed them annually as the deer do. Its Hindi name is chausingha which means herbivore with four horns. It is a light brown antelope slightly darker than Indian gazelle or chinkara. The fur is usually light tan uniform and washed with red. It is the smallest bovidae in the world. The male horned deer has gazelle-like markings.

Only the male horned deer has four horns with back ones slightly larger like a knob. The front horns are barely visible hidden in the tufts of the fur. The female horned deer have no horns and are smaller.


Horned deer is very dependent on water and is often found near rivers and waterholes. It is fleet-footed and difficult to catch sight of. It is a nocturnal animal and a rare sight. At Kanha National Park it is found in the buffer zones and at hilltops. Horned deer are not seen in large herds but usually two or four can be seen grazing.

Comparison with Nilgai

Like Nilgai they have the same dropping sites. Nilgai though much larger is another antelope species found in India, unlike the chausingha it prefers scrubs and grasslands and is rarely seen in dense forests.

Wherever the Nilgai is found chinkara may be found as well. Chausinga does not prefer tall grass but lives in scrubland and transition zones. 

Have you seen a four-horned antelope? If you have not it would be an interesting find.

 If you have seen animals it would be interesting for us to read about it.