LUCKNOW: The Terai forests might not only be known for tigers in future. The animals like leopard cats and four-horned antelopes may form a part of wildlife in UP forests. The tiger census which was taken up in Pilibhit, in May, has revealed the presence of these animals in the area.
Pilibhit is spread across 712 sq km of area. It has five ranges — Deoria, Mala, Mahof, Haripur and Barahi. It was as part of a tiger census exercise that cameras were installed in Pilibhit forest division. The camera feed has shown the presence of four-horned antelope (Chousingha) in the Mahof range of the forest. The animal, along with the leopard cat, is protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
When contacted, V K Singh, DFO Pilibhit, said, “The presence of these animals was never known in Terai area.” The four-horned antelopes are known to inhabit open forests. “We have seen a pair in the camera trapping,” said Singh. Whether there are more of these animals present is not yet known but, experts from WWF have also confirmed the presence of the animals in the area.
The four-horned antelope or `Chousingha’ is known to be a `shy and wary’ animal scurrying for cover at the slightest hint of the threat. Among its prominent characteristics is its dependence on water. According to reports available on its behaviour, it has to live close to a water source as its survival depends on drinking water regularly.
The four-horned antelopes are also known to inhabit one region all their lives. Was this one pair always present in Pilibhit? The analysis of the census findings might throw more light on the presence of `Chousingha’ and leopard cat in the region.
The leopard cat is found in India and south-east Asia. It has the colour of the leopard. It is a nocturnal animal. It hunts and preys on birds and other smaller animals during night. These cats can hunt on the ground and can also search for their prey on trees. Some of the reports on leopard cats show that they can also swim.
The wildlife records of Pilibhit do not talk about the presence of leopard cats in the area. The sightings, therefore, have come as a surprise for the foresters. The wildlife database which is now being prepared for Pilibhit will get the two rare species recorded for the first time.
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