Natural History of the Mammalia of India and Ceylon
by Robert A. Sterndale
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There is a very interesting paper on this animal by Mr. R. Lydekker in the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal,' vol. xlix., 1880, in which he points out its affinity to the goats from the absence of eye-pits and their larminal depression in the lachrymal bone—from the similarity of the basi-occipital and in the structure and colour of its horns. On the other hand it agrees with Ovis in the form of its lower jaw, in the absence of beard and any odour, and in the possession of interdigital pores in all feet.


Horns in both sexes curving backwards, angular and flattened, or in some cases twisted spirally. The nose is arched, and the chin of both sexes is more or less bearded; there are no eye-pits or inguinal pits, and feet-pits only in the fore-feet in most, and none in some. Mr. Blyth some years ago pointed out that a hind-quarter of goat with the foot attached can always be told from the same piece of mutton by the absence of the feet-pits in the goat. The males especially emit a strong odour. In other respects there is little difference between goats and sheep, and by interbreeding they produce a fertile offspring. Our domestic goat is supposed to have descended from the ibex, but certainly some of our Indian varieties may claim descent from the markhor. I noticed in 1880 at Simla herds of goats with horns quite of the markhor type, and one old fellow in a herd of about one hundred, which was being driven through the station to some rajah's place in the vicinity, had a remarkably fine head, with the broad flat twist of the markhor horn. I tried in vain to get a similar one; several heads were brought to me from the bazaar, but they were poor in comparison. Goats are more prolific than sheep. The power of gestation commences at the early age of seven months; the period is five months, and the female produces sometimes twice a year, and from two to occasionally four at a birth. The goat is a hardy animal, subsisting on the coarsest herbage, but its flesh and milk can be immensely improved by a selected diet. Some of the small domestic goats of Bengal are wonderful milkers. I have kept them for years in Calcutta for the use of my children, and once took two of them with me to Marseilles by the 'Messageries' Steamers. I prefer them to the larger goats of the North-west. My children have been singularly free from ailments during their infancy, and I attribute the immunity chiefly to the use of goats' milk drawn fresh as required. Of the wild goats, to which I must now confine my attention, there are two groups, viz. the true goats and the antelope goats. Of the former there is a sub-genus—Hemitragus—which have no feet-pits, but have a muffle and occasionally four mammae, which form a connecting link with the Cervidae. In all other respects Hemitragus is distinctly caprine.

NO. 446. CAPRA MEGACEROS. The Markhor (Jerdon's No. 234).

NATIVE NAMES.—Mar-khor (i.e. snake-eater), in Afghanistan, Kashmir, &c.; Ra-che, or Ra-pho-che, Ladakhi.

HABITAT.—The mountain districts of Afghanistan, and the highest parts of the Thibetan Himalayas. On the Pir Panjal, in Kashmir, the Hazarah hills, the hills north of the Jhelum, the Wurdwan hills west of the Beas river, on the Suleiman range, and in Ladakh.

DESCRIPTION.—General colour a dirty light-blue gray, with a darker beard; in summer with a reddish tinge; the neck and breast clad with long dark hair, reaching to the knees; hair long and shaggy; fore-legs brown. The females are redder, with shorter hair, short black beard, but no mane, and with small horns slightly twisted.

The horns of an old male are a magnificent trophy. Kinloch records having seen a pair, of which the unbroken horn measured sixty-three inches, and its fellow, which had got damaged, had fifty-seven inches left. Forty to fifty inches is, however, a fair average. According to Kinloch the very long horns are not so thick and massive as those of average length. Jerdon says the longest horns have three complete spiral twists.

The horns of certain varieties differ so much that I may say species have been settled with less to go upon. Kinloch notes four varieties. I have hitherto reckoned only two, but he gives—

No. 1.—Pir Panjal markhor; heavy, flat horns, twisted like a corkscrew.

No. 2.—Trans-Indus markhor; perfectly straight horns, with a spiral flange or ridge running up them.

No. 3.—Hazarah markhor; a slight corkscrew, as well as a twist.

No. 4.—Astor and Baltistan markhor; large, flat horns, branching out very widely, and then going up nearly straight with only a half turn.

Of the two kinds I have seen, the one has the broad flat horn twisted like a corkscrew; the other a perfectly straight core, with the worm of a screw turned round it. Nothing could be more dissimilar than these horns, yet, in other respects the animal being the same, it has not been considered necessary to separate the two as distinct species.[37]

[Footnote 37: Colonel Kinloch writes on my remarks as above, and gives the following interesting information: "I cannot consider the spiral-horned and the straight-horned markhor to be one species, any more than the Himalayan and Sindh ibex. The animals differ much in size, habits, and coat, as well as in the shape of their horns. Mr. Sterndale considers that the markhor is probably the origin of some of our breeds of domestic goats, and states that he has seen tame goats with horns quite of the markhor type. Has he ever observed that (as far as my experience goes) the horns of domestic goats invariably twist the reverse way to those of markhor? I have observed that the horns of not only markhor, but also antelope, always twist one way; those of domestic goats the other."]

SIZE.—Height, about 46 inches.

There is a life-like photograph of No. 1 variety in Kinloch's 'Large Game of Thibet,' and of No. 3 a very fine coloured plate in Wolf's folio of 'Zoological Sketches.'

The markhor frequents steep and rocky ground above the forests in summer, but descending in the winter. I cannot do better than quote Kinloch, who gives the following graphic little description: "The markhor inhabits the most precipitous and difficult ground, where nearly perpendicular faces of rock alternate with steep grassy slopes and patches of forest. It is very shy and secluded in its habits, remaining concealed in the densest thickets during the day-time, and only coming out to feed in the mornings and evenings. No animal's pursuit leads the sportsman over such dangerous ground as that of the markhor. Living so much in the forest, it must be followed over steep inclines of short grass, which the melting snow has left with all the blades flattened downwards; and amid pine-trees, whose needle-like spines strew the ground and render it more slippery and treacherous than ice. If one falls on such ground, one instantly begins to slide down the incline with rapidly increasing velocity, and, unless some friendly bush or stone arrests one's progress, the chances are that one is carried over some precipice, and either killed or severely injured. Many hair-breadth escapes occur, and the only wonder is that fatal accidents so seldom happen.

"Early in the season the males and females may be found together on the open grassy patches and clear slopes among the forest, but during the summer the females generally betake themselves to the highest rocky ridges above the forest, while the males conceal themselves still more constantly in the jungle, very rarely showing themselves. They are always very wary, and require great care in stalking them."

NO. 447. CAPRA SIBIRICA. The Himalayan Ibex (Jerdon's No. 235).

NATIVE NAMES.—Sakin, Iskin, or Skeen of the Himalayas; Buz, in the upper part of the Sutlej; Kale, Kashmiri; Tangrol, in Kulu; Skin, the male, L'Damuo the female, in Ladakh.

HABITAT.—Throughout the Himalayas from Kashmir to Nepal. The localities given by Kinloch are Kunawar, Kulu, Lahoul, Spiti, Kashmir, Baltistan, and various parts of Thibet; also Ladakh according to Horsfield.

DESCRIPTION.—General colour light brownish, with a dark stripe down the back in summer, dirty yellowish-white in winter; the beard, which is about six to eight inches long, is black; the horns, which are like those of the European ibex, are long and scimitar-shaped, curving over the neck, flattened at the sides, and strongly ridged in front; from forty to fifty inches in length. A pair is recorded in the 'Proceedings of the Zoological Society' for 1840 of fifty-one inches in length. The females have thin slightly curved horns about a foot long.

Under the hair, which is about two inches long, is a soft down, and is highly prized for the fine soft cloth called tusi.

SIZE.—Height at shoulder, about 44 inches.

According to Colonel Markham the ibex "frequents the highest ground near the snows where food is to be obtained. The sexes live apart generally, often in flocks of one hundred and more. In October the males descend and mix with the females, which have generally twins in June and July. It is an extremely wary and timid animal, and can make its way in an almost miraculous manner over the most inaccessible-looking ground. No animal can exceed the ibex in endurance and agility."

Kinloch writes as follows concerning it:—

"The ibex inhabits the most precipitous ground in the highest parts of the ranges where it is found, keeping above the forest (when there is any), unless driven down by severe weather. In the day-time it generally betakes itself to the most inaccessible crags, where it may sleep and rest in undisturbed security, merely coming down to the grassy feeding grounds in the mornings and evenings. Occasionally, in very remote and secluded places, the ibex will stay all day on their feeding grounds, but this is not common. In summer, as the snows melt, the old males retire to the highest and most unfrequented mountains, and it is then generally useless to hunt for them, as they have such a vast range, and can find food in places perfectly inaccessible to man. The females and young ones may be met with all the year round, and often at no very great elevation.

"Although an excessively wary animal, the ibex is usually found on such broken ground that, if due care be taken, it is not very difficult to obtain a shot. The grand rule, as in all other hill stalking, is to keep well above the herd, whose vigilance is chiefly directed beneath them. In places where they have been much disturbed, one or two of the herd usually keep a sharp look-out while the rest are feeding, and on the slightest suspicion of danger the sentries utter a loud whistle, which is a signal for a general rush to the nearest rocks. Should the sportsman succeed in obtaining a shot before he is observed by the ibex, he may often have time to fire several shots before they are out of range, as they appear to be completely stupefied and confused by the sudden noise, the cause of which they are unable to account for if they neither see nor smell their enemy."

Jerdon states that Major Strutt killed in the Balti valley an ibex of a rich hair-brown colour, with a yellowish-white saddle in the middle of its back, and a dark mesial line; the head, neck and limbs being of a dark sepia brown, with a darker line on the front of the legs; others were seen in the same locality by Major Strutt of a still darker colour. These seem to be peculiar to Balti; the horns are the same as the others. Kinloch remarks that a nearly black male ibex has been shot to the north of Iskardo.

NO. 448. CAPRA AEGAGRUS. The Wild Goat of Asia Minor.

NATIVE NAMES.—Pasang (male), Boz (female), generally Boz-Pasang, Persian (Blanford); Kayeek in Asia Minor (Danford).

HABITAT.—Throughout Asia Minor from the Taurus mountains; through Persia into Sindh and Baluchistan; and in Afghanistan. M. Pierre de Tchihatchef, late a distinguished member of the Russian Diplomatic Service, and well known as an author and a man of science, whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making some time ago in Florence, found these goats most abundant on the Aladagh, Boulgerdagh and Hussandagh ranges of the Taurus. He made a very good collection of horns and skulls there, which are now in the Imperial Museum, St. Petersburg. Captain Hutton found it in Afghanistan.

DESCRIPTION.—Hair short and brown, becoming lighter in summer; a dark, almost black line down the back; the males have a black beard; the young and females are lighter, with fainter markings; the horns are of the usual ibex type, but there is a striking difference between those of this species and all the others. As a rule the ibex horn is triangular in section, that is, the front part of the horn is square, with transverse knobs at short intervals all the way up, for about three-fourths of the length, whereas the horn of C. aegagrus is more scimitar-like, flattish on the inner side and rounded on the outer, with an edge in front; the sides are wavily corrugated, and on the outer edge are knobs at considerable distances apart. It is believed that an estimate of the age of the animal can be made by these protuberances—after the third year a fresh knob is made in each succeeding one. Mr. Danford says: "The yearly growths seem to be greatest from the third to the sixth year, the subsequent additions being successively smaller." The horns sometimes curve inwards and sometimes outwards at the tips. Mr. Danford figures a pair, the tips of which, turning inwards, cross each other. The female horns are shorter and less characteristic. The size of the male horns run to probably a maximum of 50 inches. There is a pair in the British Museum 48-1/2 inches on the curve. Mr. Danford's best specimen was 47-1/2, the chord of which was 22-1/2, basal circumference 9-3/4, weight 10-1/4 lbs. Captain Hutton's living specimen had horns 40-1/2 inches in length.

SIZE.—According to Herr Kotschy "it attains not unfrequently a length of 6-1/2 feet." Mr. Danford measured one 5 feet 5-1/2 inches from nose to tip of tail, 2 feet 9-1/2 inches at shoulder. (See also Appendix C.)

I have not had an opportunity of measuring a very well-stuffed specimen in the Indian Museum, but I should say that the Sind variety was much smaller. Standing, as it does, beside a specimen of Capra Sibirica, it looks not much bigger than some of the Jumnapari goats. (See Appendix C.)

The aegagrus is commonly supposed to be the parent stock from which the domestic goat descended, and certainly the European and many Asiatic forms show a similarity of construction in the horn, but the common goat descended from more than one wild stock, for, as I have before stated, there are goats in India, which show unmistakable signs of descent from the markhor, Capra megaceros. In the article on Capra aegagrus in the 'P. Z. S.' for 1875, p. 458, by Mr. C. G. Danford, F.Z.S., written after a recent visit to Asia Minor, it is stated that the late Captain Hutton found it common in Afghanistan, in the Suleiman and Pishin hills, and in the Hazarah and western ranges. I confess I had thought the ibex of these parts to be identical with C. Sibirica. Mr. Danford, describing where he met with it, says:—

"The picturesque town of Adalia is situated at the head of the gulf of the same name, and is the principal place in the once populous district of Pamphylia. It is surrounded on its landward side by a wide brushwood-covered plain, bounded on the north and north-east by the Gok and other mountains of the Taurus, and on the west by the Suleiman, a lofty spur of the same range, in which latter the present specimens were collected.

"These mountains, the principal summit of which, the Akdagh (white mountain), attains a height of 10,000 feet (Hoskyn), rise abruptly from the plain and sea, and are of very imposing and rugged forms. The pure grey tints of the marble and marble-limestone, of which they are principally composed, show beautifully between the snowy summits, and the bright green of the pines and darker shades of the undergrowth of oak, myrtle and bay, which clothe their lower slopes.

"The wild goat is here found either solitary or in small parties and herds, which number sometimes as many as 100; the largest which I saw contained 28. It is called by the natives kayeek, which word, though applied in other parts of the country to the stag, and sometimes even the roe, is here only used to designate the aegagrus, the fallow deer of this district being properly known as jamoorcha. The old males of the aegagrus inhabit during summer the higher mountains, being often met with on the snow, while the females and young frequent the lower and easier ridges; in winter, however, they all seem to live pretty much together among the rocks, scattered pines, and bushy ground, generally preferring elevations of from 2000 to 5000 feet. Herr Kotschy says they never descend below 4000 feet in Cilicia; but his observations were made in summer.

"Like all the ibex tribe, the aegagrus is extremely shy and wary at ordinary times, though, as in the case with many other animals, they may be easily approached during the rutting season. I was told that they were often brought within shot at that time by the hunter secreting himself, and rolling a few small stones down the rocks. When suddenly disturbed they utter a short angry snort, and make off at a canter rather than a gallop. Though their agility among the rocks is marvellous, they do not, according to Mr. Hutton ('Calcutta Journ.' vii. p. 524), possess sufficient speed to enable them to escape from the dogs which are employed to hunt them in the low lands of Afghanistan. It is interesting to see how, when danger is dreaded, the party is always led by the oldest male, who advances with great caution, and carefully surveys the suspected ground before the others are allowed to follow; their food consists principally of mountain grasses, shoots of different small species of oak and cedar, and various berries. The young are dropped in May, and are one or two (Kotschy says sometimes three) in number. The horns appear very early, as shown in a kid of the year procured in the beginning of January."

It appears to be very much troubled with ticks, and an oestrus or bot which deposits its larvae in the frontal sinuses and cavities of the horns.


Some naturalists do not separate this from Capra, but the majority do on the following characteristics, viz. that they possess a small muffle, and one of the two species has four mammae. The horns are trigonal, laterally compressed and knotted on the upper edge.

NO. 449. CAPRA vel HEMITRAGUS JEMLAICUS. The Tahr (Jerdon's No. 232).

NATIVE NAMES.—Tehr, Jehr, near Simla; Jharal, in Nepal; Kras and Jagla, in Kashmir; Kart, in Kulu; Jhula the male, and Thar or Tharni the female, in Kunawur; Esbu and Esbi, male and female, on the Sutlej above Chini (Jerdon).

HABITAT.—Throughout the entire range of the Himalayas, at high elevations between the forest and snow limits. According to Dr. Leith Adams it is very common on the Pir Panjal, and more so near Kishtwar.

DESCRIPTION.—The male is of various shades of brown, varying in tint from dark to yellowish, the front part and mane being ashy with a bluish tinge, the upper part of the limbs rusty brown, the fronts of legs and belly being darker. There is no beard, the face being smooth and dark ashy, but on the fore-quarters and neck the hair lengthens into a magnificent mane, which sometimes reaches to the knees. There is a dark mesial line; the tail is short and nude underneath; the horns are triangular, the sharp edge being to the front; they are about ten or eleven inches in circumference at the base where they touch, then, sweeping like a demi-crescent backwards, they taper to a fine point in a length of about 12 to 14 inches. The male has at times a very strong odour. The female is smaller, and of a reddish-brown or fulvous drab above, with a dark streak down the back, whitish below; the horns are also much smaller.

SIZE.—Length of head and body, about 4-1/2 feet. Height, 36 to 40 inches.

Col. Kinloch, whose two volumes are most valuable, both as regards interesting details and perfect illustrations, speaks thus of this species:—

"The tahr is a fine-looking beast, although his horns are small, and he cannot compare with his majestic relatives, the ibex and the markhor. The male tahr is about the same size as the ibex, but rather more heavily made. The general colour is a reddish-brown, deepening into a much darker tint on the hind-quarters, but individuals vary a good deal, and I have shot one which was of a yellowish-white. The face is covered with smooth short hair, and is nearly black; the hair of the body is long and coarse, attaining its greatest length on the neck, chest and shoulders, where it forms a fine flowing mane reaching below the animal's knees. The horns are curious, being triangular, with the sharp edge to the front; they are very thick at the base, and taper rapidly to a fine point, curving right back on to the neck. The largest horns attain a length of about 14 inches, and are 10 or 11 inches in circumference at the base.

"The female tahr is very much smaller than the male; the hair is short, and the horns diminutive. The colour is a lightish red, with a dark stripe down the back.

"The tahr is like the markhor, a forest-loving animal, and, although it sometimes resorts to the rocky summits of the hills, it generally prefers the steep slopes, which are more or less clothed with trees. Female tahr may be frequently found on open ground, but old males hide a great deal in the thickest jungle, lying during the heat of the day under the shade of trees or overhanging rocks. Nearly perpendicular hills with dangerous precipices, where the forest consists of oak and ringall cane, are the favourite haunts of the old tahr, who climb with ease over ground where one would hardly imagine that any animal could find a footing. Tahr ground indeed is about the worst walking I know, almost rivalling markhor ground; the only advantage being that, bad as it is, there are generally some bushes or grass to hold on to.

"Owing to the ground it inhabits being so covered with jungle, the pursuit of the tahr is attended with a great deal of labour and uncertainty. Forcing one's way for hours through tangled bushes is very fatiguing, and, as it is impossible to do so without noise, chances are often lost which would be easy enough if the ground was more open. Frequently, although the tracks show that old tahr must be near, and in spite of the utmost care and caution, the first intimation one has of the presence of the game is a rush through the bushes, a clatter of falling stones, and perhaps a glimpse of the shaggy hind-quarters of the last of the herd as he vanishes over some precipice where it is perfectly impossible to follow him.

"Early in the spring, when grass and leaves are scarce, and again in the rutting season, are the best times for tahr shooting, as the old males then come out on open slopes.

"The tahr is very tenacious of life, and, even when mortally wounded, he will frequently make his escape into utterly impracticable ground. In autumn the tahr becomes immensely fat and heavy, and his flesh is then in high favour with the natives, the rank flavour suiting their not very delicate palates. An Englishman would rather not be within one hundred yards to leeward of him, the perfume being equal to treble-distilled 'bouquet de bouc.' Ibex is bad enough, but tahr is 'a caution.' The flesh of the female is, however, excellent."

Colonel Markham says: "Seen at a distance it looks like a great wild hog, but when near it is a noble beast." According to Hodgson, it has interbred with a female spotted deer, and the offspring, which more resembled the mother, grew up a fine animal. There is a beautifully clear photograph in Kinloch's 'Large Game of Thibet,' and a large coloured plate in Wolf's 'Zoological Sketches.'

NO. 450. CAPRA vel HEMITRAGUS HYLOCRIUS. The Neilgherry Wild Goat, or Ibex of Madras Sportsmen (Jerdon's No. 233).

NATIVE NAMES.—Warra-adu or Warri-atu, Tamil.

HABITAT.—The Western Ghats, southerly towards Cape Comorin.

DESCRIPTION.—According to Jerdon, "the adult male, dark sepia brown, with a pale reddish-brown saddle, more or less marked, and paler brown on the sides and beneath; legs somewhat grizzled with white, dark brown in front, and paler posteriorly; the head is dark, grizzled with yellowish-brown, and the eye is surrounded by a pale fawn-coloured spot; horns short, much curved, nearly in contact at the base, gradually diverging, strongly keeled internally, round externally, with numerous close rings not so prominent as in the last species. There is a large callous spot on the knees surrounded by a fringe of hair, and the male has a short stiff mane on the neck and withers. The hair is short, thick, and coarse."

Colonel Douglas Hamilton, writing to the late Brigadier-General McMaster, says: "I think Jerdon's description is good, but I should call the saddles of the old males grizzled with white, and not pale reddish-brown. A real old 'saddle-back' has a white saddle and almost jet-black points. He makes a mistake about the length of the tail, 6 or 7 inches; it is not more than 3 inches."

SIZE.—Height at shoulder, 41 to 42 inches. Jerdon gives 32 to 34, but he appears to have under-estimated the animal, unless it be a misprint for 42 and 44; although he questions Colonel W. Campbell's measurements of length and height, the former of which does seem excessive (6 feet 5 inches, including tail, probably taken from a skin), but the latter, 42 inches, is corroborated by Colonel Hamilton and several others.

The size of the horns is given by Jerdon as occasionally 15 inches, rarely more than 12. Colonel Douglas Hamilton says, 9 inches in circumference and 15 to 15-1/2 or 15-3/4 in length is the average of a large horn. General McMaster writes, referring to the latter opinion: "Both he and I know of one 16 inches in length, shot by a well-known South Indian sportsman of the Madras Civil Service, and in February 1869 at Ootacamund, he and I measured the horn of a magnificent buck ibex, shot within 15 or 20 miles of that place. The exact measurements of this mighty horn were 17 inches in length, and 9-3/4 in circumference at the base."

Jerdon states that this goat chiefly frequents the northern and western slopes of the Neilgherries, where the hills run down in a succession of steep stony slopes or rocky ridges to the high table-land of Mysore and the Wynaad, both of which districts are themselves hilly. It is occasionally seen on the summit of the northern and western faces, but more generally some distance down, at an elevation of 4000 to 6000 feet, and, if carefully looked for, the herd may be seen feeding on an open grassy glade at the foot of some precipice. "I have," he adds, "seen above twenty individuals in a flock occasionally, but more generally not more than six or seven. With the large herds there is almost always one very large old male conspicuous by his nearly black colour."

Colonel D. Hamilton says he has seen 120 pass out of one valley, which he thinks were probably the aggregate of several herds, but he has counted sixty and sixty-five in a herd, and thirty-five in another, without a single adult buck amongst them. In the South of India Observer for the 3rd and 17th of September, 1868, will be found most interesting descriptions of ibex-shooting by "Hawkeye" whose letters are largely quoted by McMaster; but I can only find space for one extract here, interesting to both sportsman and naturalist:—

"It is a pleasant sight to watch a herd of ibex, when undisturbed, the kids frisking here and there on pinnacles or ledges of rocks and beetling cliffs, where there seems scarcely safe foothold for anything much larger than the grasshopper or a fly; the old mother looking calmly on or grazing steadily while the day is young, cropping the soft moss or tender herbs and sweet short grass springing from the crevices of the craggy precipices in rich abundance. Then, again, to see the caution observed in taking up their resting or abiding places for the day, where they may be warmed by the sun, listening to the roar of many waters, and figuratively, we may say, chewing the cud of contentment, and giving themselves up to the full enjoyment of their nomadic life and its romantic haunts. Usually before reposing one of the herd, generally an old doe, may be observed intently gazing below, apparently scanning every spot in the range of her vision, sometimes for half an hour or more before she is satisfied that 'all is well;' strange to say, seldom or ever looking up to the rocks above. Then, being satisfied on the one side, she observes the same process on the other, eventually calmly lying down, contented with the precautions she has taken that all is safe. Her post as sentinel is generally a prominent one, on the edge and corner perhaps of some ledge, to be well sheltered from the wind and warmed by the sun, along which the rest of the herd dispose themselves as inclined, fully trusting in the watchful guardian, whose manoeuvres I have been describing. Should the sentinel be joined by another, or her kid come and lie down by her, they invariably place themselves back to back, or in such a manner that they can keep a look-out on either side. A solitary male goes through all this by himself, and wonderfully careful he is, but when with the herd he reposes in security, leaving it to the females to take precautions for their mutual safety. I have stated that these animals seldom look above them, except when any cause of alarm leads them to do so. I recollect an instance which I will relate, partly to show the advantage of a good colour for a stalker's dress, and to illustrate what I have mentioned above. I had disturbed a buck ibex accidentally one morning, and, after watching him a long distance with the glass, observed him to take up a position and commence the vigilant process previously mentioned. By this I knew he was preparing to lie down. He was a long time about it, but eventually he was satisfied, and took up his post on a prominent rock, from which, as lying with his back to the mountain, he held a clear view in front and on both sides. I approached from above, the wind all right, and the ibex reposing comfortably in fancied security. I had to pass a large rock to clear an intervening impediment, and gain a full view of the buck, as I could at first only see his horns. I had taken the precaution to remove my shoes, the grass being very dry and noisy. The crunching of the dry grass as I moved attracted the notice of the ibex, and suddenly he looked back and up towards me. He was not more than eighty or ninety yards below. I leaned against the rock, my shikar dress blending with the dark grey of the stone and burnt-up grass so completely as to deceive even my lynx-eyed prey. Long, long he looked, till my very knees trembled with anxiety. At last he turned his head, but I knew better than to move, being sure he would have another look. He did so and it proved to be his last, for, when he again turned his head away, I quietly subsided, and in another moment the buck died on his rocky bed."

There is an illustration by Wolf of the animal in Colonel Walter Campbell's 'My Indian Journal.'

The female has only two mammae, and usually produces two young at a time.


These animals form the link between the goats and the antelopes; their general characteristics are short, conical horns, ringed at the base, upright and curving backwards, and of nearly equal size in both sexes. The body is heavier than is usual amongst antelopes; the feet are large, and have false hoofs.


"Horns in both sexes round, black and ringed; a small muffle; eye-pits wanting or small; large feet-pits in all feet; no inguinal pits nor calcic tufts; tails short, hairy; four mammae" (Jerdon).

NO. 451. NEMORHOEDUS BUBALINA. The Serow, or Forest Goat (Jerdon's No. 230).

NATIVE NAMES.—Serow, or Serowa, Pahari; Eimu, on the Sutlej; Ramu, Halj, Salabhir, Kashmiri; Nga, Leesaws of the Sanda valley; Paypa, of the Shans; Shanli, Chinese of the Burma-Chinese frontier.

HABITAT.—The whole of the wooded ranges of the Himalayas from Kashmir down past Sikim on to the ranges dividing China from Burmah.

DESCRIPTION.—I have before me several descriptions of this animal, of which I have little personal knowledge. The best of all is that of Colonel Kinloch, which has been, to some extent, quoted by Professor Garrod in Cassell's Natural History. I give it in extenso:—

"The serow is an ungainly-looking animal, combining the characteristics of the cow, the donkey, the pig, and the goat! It is a large and powerful beast, considerably larger than a tahr, and longer in the leg. The body is covered with very coarse hair, which assumes the form of a bristly mane on the neck and shoulders, and gives the beast a ferocious appearance, which does not belie its disposition. The colour is a dull black on the back, bright red on the sides, and white underneath, the legs also being dirty white. The ears are very large, the muzzle is coarse, and two singular circular orifices are situated two or three inches below the eyes. The horns are stout at the base, are ringed nearly to the tips, and curve back close to the neck, growing to the length of from nine to fourteen inches; they are very sharp-pointed, and the serow is said to be able to make good use of them.

"The sexes vary very little, less than in any ruminating animal with which I am acquainted; both are furnished with horns of nearly the same size, those of an old male being rather thicker than those of the female.

"The serow has an awkward gait; but in spite of this it can go over the worst ground; and it has, perhaps, no superior in going down steep hills.

"It is a solitary animal, and is nowhere numerous; two or three may be found on one hill, four or five on another, and so on. It delights in the steepest and most rocky hill-sides, and its favourite resting-places are in caves, under the shelter of overhanging rocks, or at the foot of shady trees. It constantly repairs to the same spots, as testified to by the large heaps of its droppings which are to be found in the localities above alluded to. Although very shy and difficult to find, the serow is a fierce and dangerous brute when wounded and brought to bay. I have even heard of an unwounded male charging when his mate had been shot.

"It is said that the serow will sometimes beat off a pack of wild dogs, and I believe that serow and dogs have been found lying dead together. It is therefore advisable to be cautious when approaching a wounded one.

"When disturbed, the serow utters a most singular sound, something between a snort and a screaming whistle, and I have heard them screaming loudly when they had apparently not been alarmed."

Colonel Markham says of it that it is something in appearance between a jackass and a thar, with long stout legs, and a strong neck. Jerdon's description is not clear; it is: "above black, more or less grizzled and mixed on the flanks with deep clay colour; a black dorsal stripe; forearms and thighs anteriorly reddish brown; the rest of the limbs hoary; beneath whitish." The deep clay colour is indefinite, as there are many sorts of clay, and people's ideas may differ as to the shade by the particular clay to which they are most accustomed. Dr. Anderson found it in the Western provinces of Yunnan; and General McMaster, in his 'Notes' (page 143), says that when he was quartered at Shuaygheen, on the Sitang river, in Burmah, a female of this species was brought alive to Major Berdmore by some Burmans, who had caught it in the river, by which it had probably been washed down from the Karanee mountains. He adds that even in its exhausted and dying state it was exceedingly savage, butting at every one who approached it.

SIZE.—Height, about 3 feet, or an inch or two over; length, about 5 to 5-1/2 feet; weight, about 200 lbs.; horns, about a foot long as an average, varying from 9 to 14 inches.

The female usually produces one kid in the autumn, about September or October, and the period of gestation is about seven months.

NO. 452. NEMORHOEDUS RUBIDA vel SUMATRENSIS. The Arakanese Capricorn.

NATIVE NAME.—Tan-Kseik, Arakanese.

HABITAT.—Arakan, through Pegu to (according to Blyth) the extremity of the Malayan peninsula, and occurs in Siam and Formosa, and also in Sumatra. Has been shot near Shillong in Assam.

DESCRIPTION.—Blyth is of opinion ('Cat. Mam. British Burmah,' 'J. A. S. B.' 1875) that his N. rubida is identical with Sumatrensis and Swinhoei, and he could detect no difference in their skulls and skins. I therefore take the following description of Capricornis Swinhoei from the 'P. Z. S.' 1862, page 263, where it is also figured, plate xxxv.:—

"The fur harsh and crisp, brown, with a narrow streak down the back of the neck; a spot on the knee and the front of the fore-legs below the knee black; the hind-legs are bay; the sides of the chin pale yellowish; the under-side of the neck yellow bay, this colour being separated from the darker colour of the upper part of the neck by a ridge of longer, more rigid hairs; the ears are long, brown, paler internally; the horns are short and conical; the skull has a deep and wide concavity in front of the orbits, and a keeled ridge on the cheek."

Blyth says: "This species varies much in colour from red to black, and the black sometimes with a white nape, or the hairs of the nape may be white at the base only." Lieut. Bevan described one ('P. Z. S.' 1866) shot on the Zwagaben mountain, near Moulmein, as being of a mingled black and ferruginous colour.

NO. 453. NEMORHOEDUS EDWARDSII. The Thibetan Capricorn.


DESCRIPTION.—This differs from the Indian N. bubalina by the uniform blackish brown of the upper parts tending to ferruginous on the thighs, and the red colour in place of the grey on the lower parts of the legs.

It was discovered by the Abbe David, who named it after the well-known Professor A. Milne-Edwards.

NO. 454. NEMORHOEDUS GORAL. The Small Himalayan Capricorn (Jerdon's No. 231).

NATIVE NAMES.—Goral, Pahari; Pijur, Kashmiri (Jerdon); Rein or Rom, Kashmiri (Kinloch); Sah or Sarr, in the Sutlej valley; Suh-ging, Lepcha; Ra-giyu, Bhotia.

HABITAT.—The whole range of the Himalayas from Bhotan to Kashmir.

DESCRIPTION.—Dull brownish-grey above, with a dark mesial line, paler below; a large white spot under the throat; chest and front of fore-legs dark brown; female paler. The general appearance is that of a high, or arched-backed goat. The females and young are lighter coloured; the horns spring from the crest of the frontals and incline backward, and are slightly curved and very sharp pointed, ringed at the base, and smooth for the apical half or third; some have more rings than others. Jerdon says from twenty to twenty-five rings, but a specimen from Bhutan, which I have before me as I write (a female, I think) has but ten annuli, or little more than one-third ringed.

The following description is from Kinloch's 'Large Game of Thibet':—

"Gooral are not gregarious, like the true goats, all of which frequently assemble in large flocks, but are usually scattered about the hills, three or four being occasionally found close together, but more commonly they feed alone or in pairs. They are to be found in all sorts of ground, from bare crags to thick undulating forests, but their favourite resorts are steep rocky hills, thinly sprinkled with forest, especially where it consists of the Kolin pine. In bright weather they conceal themselves in shady places during the day-time, and only come out to feed on the open slopes in the morning and evening; but when the weather is cloudy they sometimes feed nearly all day.

"From living so near human habitations, and constantly seeing shepherds and wood-cutters, gooral are not alarmed by seeing men at a distance, and where the ground is much broken they are not difficult to stalk. Where they are at all plentiful they afford very good sport, and their pursuit is a capital school for the young sportsman. Gooral-shooting is in fact like miniature ibex-shooting. The ground they inhabit is frequently difficult walking; the animals are quite sufficiently wary to test the generalship of the stalker; and as they do not present a very large mark, good shooting is required.

"The best way to hunt them is (having discovered a good hill) to be on the ground by daylight and work along the face of the hill, keeping as high up as possible. Every slope should be carefully examined, and on reaching the edge of each ravine it should be thoroughly reconnoitred. Being good climbers, the gooral may be found in all sorts of places—on narrow ledges, on the face of steep precipices, on gentle slopes of young grass, and among scattered bushes or forest trees. As little noise as possible should be made; talking should never be allowed, for nothing frightens game so much. Frequently after firing a shot or two on a hill-side, other animals may be found quietly feeding a little further on, whereas if there has been any shouting or talking the beasts will have been driven away. Shooting over a hill does not appear to have the effect of frightening gooral away; when disturbed they seldom go far, and may be found again on their old ground in the course of a day or two. On detecting the presence of danger, the gooral generally stands still, and utters several sharp hisses before moving away."

SIZE.—Height, 28 to 30 inches; length, about 4 feet; horns, from 6 to 9 inches.

* * * * *

I must here include one of the most curious animals in India, a creature resembling at first sight the African gnu. About a couple of years ago, a friend of mine, who hails from the "land o' cakes," called to ask me about a strange animal he had noticed in the Museum. "They call it a 'takin,'" said he; "and if I did not think they were above jokes in such a dry-bone establishment, I should say in the language of my native country, that it is a 'tak' in,' for it does not look natural at all." I turned up Hodgson's account of the creature for him, to prove that it was not a hoax. It was first brought to notice by the above naturalist about thirty years ago, and he gave it the name Budorcas, from the two Greek words signifying ox and gazelle.

His account of it appears in the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society,' vol. xix., 1850. It is again mentioned in the 'P. Z. S.' for 1853, with a plate (No. xxxvi.), and a further account of it, with several plates, will be found in Professor Milne-Edwards's 'Recherches sur les Mammiferes' (pp. 367 to 377).

As my time has been very much occupied lately, I have not been able to go through all that has been written on this singular antelope, but I have been fortunate enough to find a willing helper in Mr. J. Cockburn, who, always ready to assist in the study to which he has devoted himself, has given me the following notes, which I have given in the following notice, as they stand under the heading DESCRIPTION.


A heavily-built, somewhat cow-shaped animal, with curiously bent horns, which spring upwards, but soon bend laterally outward and then upwards and backwards with angular curves; a front view resembles a trident with the centre prong removed. The chevron is highly arched, and the false hoofs are very large.


NATIVE NAMES.—Takin or Takhon, pronounced nasally.

HABITAT.—The Mishmi hills, Assam, Thibet.

DESCRIPTION.—"The takin is a large, heavily-built ruminant, about 3 feet 6 inches high at the shoulder and 6 feet in total length. The external peculiarities of the animal are: first, peculiar angularly curved horns in both sexes; second, the enormously arched chevron; third, the very great development of the spurious hoofs, which are obtusely conical, and about 1-1/2 inches in length in a small specimen.

"The colour of the adult in one stage is fulvous throughout, some of the hairs being dark tipped. Legs, tail, muzzle and dorsal stripe black.

"Old bulls appear to become of an uniform brownish-black at times, but the colour doubtless depends on the season, as each hair has the basal two-thirds yellow, and its apical third black, and the young its hair brown with a dark tint. The takin, pronounced takhon (nasally), is found just outside British limits in the Mishmi and Akha hills, north of Assam. It extends into the mountainous parts of Chinese Thibet, whence it has lately been procured by the adventurous Abbe David, and has been described by the great French naturalist A. Milne-Edwards, in his work 'Recherches sur les Mammiferes,' with some osteological details which were hitherto wanting, but no more than the limb bones appear to have been obtained.

"The horns of the takin have been considered to bear some likeness to those of the gnu (Catoblepas), but I fail to trace a resemblance. Hodgson's description of the horns is as follows:—

"'The horns of the takin are inserted on the highest part of the forehead. The horns are nearly in contact at their bases. Their direction is first vertically upwards, then horizontally outwards, or to the sides, and then almost as horizontally backwards. The length of each horn is about 20 inches along the curves, but their thickness is great. The tail is about three inches long.'

"This remarkable animal was originally described by Brian Hodgson in 1850, from specimens procured by Major Jenkins from the Mishmis, north-east of Sadya. Skulls and skins are fairly common among the residents of Debroogurh, and two perfect skins of adults were lately presented by Colonel Graham to the Indian Museum.

"It is to be regretted that the skeleton of the animal remains unknown to science; from information collected by myself from the Mishmis, it was apparent that they might easily be procured.

"The animal would appear to range from about 8000 feet to the Alpine region, which is stated to be its habitat.

"While at Sadya a Mishmi chief pointed me out various spurs of the Himalayas, tantalisingly close, where he stated that he had hunted the animal.

"Hodgson's paper on the takin was published in the 'Jour. As. Soc.' vol. xix., pp. 65, 75, with three plates, a drawing of the animal, and two views of the skull.

"The next figure was by Wolf, in the 'Proc. of the Zool. Soc.' for 1853, pt. xxxvi., and is perhaps the worst he has ever done. Neither of these drawings are correct; and it is to be hoped that Professor Milne-Edwards has more materials for his picture than flat skins and limb bones.

"Professor Milne-Edwards was inclined to consider his specimens a distinct variety from the Mishmi animal, and calls it Budorcas taxicola (sic) var. Tibetana.

"The difference the professor points out, namely the fulvous colour and the thinner undeveloped horns, exist in various specimens of the Mishmi takin, and there can be no question but that the animals are identical.

"The slaty colour of Wolf's drawing is probably due to an incorrect conception of Hodgson's term grey, which he defines as a yellowish-grey.

"The takin is essentially a serow (Nemorhoedus), with affinities to the bovines through the musk ox (Ovibos moschata), and other relationship to the sheep, goat and antelope. The development of the spurious hoofs would indicate that it frequents very steep ground."—J. C.


These are small animals of slender frame; bovine muzzle; of sandy colour above and white underneath; small annulated horns, curved gracefully backwards, and in some species so elegantly formed as to take the shape of a lyre on looking at them full in front. The females of some have smaller, smoother horns, but others are hornless. The skull has an anteorbital vacuity, with a small anteorbital fossa. The auditory bullae are large; "eye-pits small; groin-pits distinct; large feet-pits in all feet; knees tufted" (Jerdon). The face has a white band running from the outer side of the base of each horn down to the muzzle, the space between forming a dark triangular patch bordered with a deeper tint. Sir Victor Brooke classifies the twenty or so known species as follows:—

I.—BACK UNSTRIPED. Dentition:—Inc. 0/3; can. 0/1; prem. 3/3; molars, 3/3.

A.—The white colour of the rump not encroaching on the fawn of the haunches.


Horns lyrate or semi-lyrate: Gazella dorcas; G. Isabella; G. rufifrons; G. loevipes; G. melanura. Horns non-lyrate: Gazella Cuvieri; G. leptoceros; G. Spekii; G. Arabica; G. Bennetti; G. fuscifrons.


Gazella subgutterosa; G. gutterosa; G. picticaudata.

B.—White of rump projecting forwards in an angle into the fawn colour of the haunches.

Gazella dama; G. mohr; G. Soemmerringii; G. Granti.

II.—BACK WITH A WHITE MEDIAN STRIPE. One premolar less in the lower jaw: Gazella euchore.

Of the above species the following come under the scope of this work: Gazella Bennetti; G. fuscifrons; G. subgutterosa; G. picticaudata.

NO. 456. GAZELLA BENNETTI. The Indian Gazelle (Jerdon's No. 229).

NATIVE NAMES.—Chikara, Hindi; Kal-punch, Hindi; Kal-sipi, Mahratti; Hirni, in the Punjab; Tiska, also Budari and Mudari, Canarese; Barudu-jinka, Telegu; Porsya (male) and Chari (female), of Baoris.

HABITAT.—Mr. W. Blanford defines the limits of this species as follows ('P. Z. S.,' 1873, p. 315)—the italics are mine: "It is found throughout the Punjab, North-west Provinces, Rajputana, Sind (unless in part replaced by the next species), Kachh, Kathiawar, Guzerat, and the whole Bombay Presidency, with the exception of the Western Ghats and the low land on Konkan, along the western coast, south of the neighbourhood of Daman. It is also met with in the Narbada and Tapti valleys, Bandelkand, the Son valley, and Rewah, in the Nagpur and Chanda country, Berar, the Hyderabad territories, and other parts of Southern India, with the complete exception of the Malabar coast and the adjacent hills." He adds that from the evidence of Colonel McMaster and Colonel Douglas Hamilton, both good authorities, it is not known to occur much south of the Krishna river, nor is it found in the Ganges valley east of Benares, in Eastern Behar, the Santal Pergunnahs, Chotia Nagpur, Birbhum, &c., Chhatisgurh, the Mahanadi valley, Orissa, Bastar, and the east coast, generally north of the river Krishna. He says it is met with in the Narbada valley, but I have also found it common on the plateaux of the Satpura range.

DESCRIPTION.—"Fawn brown above, darker where it joins the white of the sides and buttocks; chin, breast, lower parts and buttocks behind white; tail, knee-tufts and fetlocks behind black; a dark brown spot on the nose, and a dark line from the eyes to the mouth, bordered by a light one above" (Jerdon).

SIZE.—Length, 3-1/2 feet; height, 26 inches at shoulder, 28 inches at croup.

The horns run from 10 to 14 inches in the male, but, in fact, few exceed a foot. The longest of six pairs in my collection measure 12 inches, and the head is looked upon as a fine one. I agree with Jerdon that there must be some mistake about 18-inch horns recorded from the Punjab.

This pretty little creature, miscalled "ravine-deer," is familiar to most shikaris. How it got called a deer it is difficult to say, except on the principle of "rats and mice, and such small deer." The Madras term of "goat-antelope" is more appropriate. I remember once, when out on field service with the late Dr. Jerdon during the Indian Mutiny, a few chikara crossed our line of march. A young and somewhat bumptious ensign, who knew not of the fame of the doctor as a naturalist, called out: "There are some deer, there are some deer." "Those are not deer," quietly remarked Jerdon. "Oh, I say," exclaimed the boy, thinking he had got a rise out of the doctor; "Jerdon says those are not deer!" "No more they are, young man—no more they are; much more of the goat—much more of the goat."

This gazelle frequents broken ground, with sandy nullahs bordered by scrub jungle, and is most common in dry climates. It is unknown, I believe, in Bengal and, according to Jerdon, on the Malabar coast, but is, I think, found almost everywhere else in India. It abounds in the Central provinces, and I have found it in parts of the Punjab, and it is common throughout the North-west. It is a wary, restless little beast, and requires good shooting, for it does not afford much of a mark. When disturbed they keep constantly shifting, not going far, but hovering about in a most tantalising way. Natives it cares little for, unless it be a shikari with a gun, of which it seems to have intuitive perception; but the ordinary cultivator, with his load of wood and grass, may approach within easy shot; therefore it is not a bad plan, when there is no available cover, to get one of these men to walk alongside of you, whilst, with a horse-cloth or blanket over you, you make yourself look as like your guide as you can. A horse or bullock is also a great help. I had a little bullock which formed part of some loot at Banda—a very handsome little bull, easy to ride and steady under fire—and I found him most useful in stalking black buck and gazelle.

When alarmed, the chikara stamps its foot and gives a sharp little hiss. It is generally found in small herds of four or five, but often singly. Jerdon, however, says that in the extreme North-west he had seen twenty or more together, and this is corroborated by Kinloch.

They are sometimes hunted by hawks and dogs combined, the churrug (Falco sacer) being the hawk usually employed, as mentioned both by Kinloch and Hodgson, writing of opposite ends of the great Himalayan chain. The hawk stoops at the head of its quarry and confuses it, whilst the dogs, who would otherwise have no chance, run up and seize it.

The poor little gazelle has also many other enemies—jackals and wolves being amongst the number. Captain Baldwin, in his interesting book, writes: "Like other antelopes, the little ravine-deer has many enemies besides man. One day, when out with my rifle, I noticed an old female gazelle stamping her feet, and every now and then making that hiss which is the alarm note of the animal. It was not I that was the cause of her terror, for I had passed close to her only a few minutes before, and she seemed to understand by my manner that I meant no harm; no, there was something else. I turned back, and, on looking down a ravine close by, saw a crafty wolf attempting a stalk on the mother and young one. Another day, at Agra, a pair of jackals joined in the chase of a wounded buck." Brigadier-General McMaster also relates how he and two friends, whilst coursing, watched for a long time four jackals trying to force one of a small herd of young bucks to separate from the rest. "The gazelles stood in a circle, and maintained their ground well by keeping their heads very gallantly outwards to their foes, until at length, seeing us, both sides made off. We laid the greyhounds into and killed one of the jackals."

NO. 457. GAZELLA FUSCIFRONS. The Baluchistan Gazelle.

HABITAT.—The deserts of Jalk between Seistan and Baluchistan.

DESCRIPTION.—"Central facial band strongly marked, grizzled black; light facial streak grey, fairly definite, as is also the blackish dark facial streak; cheeks and anterior of neck grey; back of the neck, back, sides, haunches and legs sandy; lateral streaks wanting; belly and rump whitish; knee-brushes long, black; ears very long; horns (of female only known) strongly annulated, bending forwards and very slightly inwards at the tips" (Sir V. Brooke, 'P. Z. S.,' 1873, p. 545).

SIZE.—Total length, from tip of nose to end of tail, 4 feet; height at shoulder, 1 foot 11 inches.

This curious species was first brought to notice by Mr. Blanford. It is distinguished, he says, from the Indian G. Bennetti—first by colour, and secondly by the greater length and more strongly marked annulation of the horns of the female. "The face in the Indian gazelle," he says, "is nearly uniform rufescent fawn colour; the parts that are black and blackish in G. fuscifrons being only a little darker than the rest in G. Bennetti; the back also in the latter is more rufescent and less yellow, and the hairs are less dense."

* * * * *

The following two species belong to section B, of which the females are hornless.

NO. 458. GAZELLA SUBGUTTEROSA. The Persian Gazelle.

NATIVE NAMES.—Kik, Sai-kik, and Jairan, Turki of Yarkand and Kashgar (Blanford).

HABITAT.—The high lands of Persia; to the north-west it is found as far as Tabriz; it is probably, according to Blanford, the gazelle of Meshed and Herat; on the east it extends to the frontier of India, and is found in Afghanistan and northern Baluchistan; a variety also exists in Yarkand.

DESCRIPTION.—"Hair in winter rough and coarse, in summer much softer and smoother. During both seasons the dirty white of the face and cheeks is only relieved by the dark facial streak, which is short and narrow, but defined by a sprinkling of rufous hairs; the lateral and pygal bands are very faintly indicated, the dark bands being more rufous, the light band rather paler than the grey fawn colour of the upper parts of the body; breast and belly white; tail and ears moderate in length, the former blackish-rufous. Horns absent in the female; in the male long, annulated and lyrate, the points projecting inwards" (Sir V. Brooke). According to Blanford, who seemed doubtful whether it should not be raised to the rank of a species, the Yarkand variety differs from the typical G. subgutterosa in the very much darker markings on the face, and in the much smaller degree to which the horns diverge; he adds, however, that as there is some variation in face-markings amongst Persian specimens, it is perhaps better to consider the Yarkand race as only a variety. He gives a very good coloured plate of the animal. ('Sc. Results, Second Yarkand Mission—Mammalia.')

NO. 459. GAZELLA PICTICAUDATA. Thibetan Gazelle.

NATIVE NAME.—Goa, Thibetan.

HABITAT.—Ladakh. Abundant, according to Kinloch, on the plateau to the south-east of the Tsomoriri lake, on the hills east of Hanle, and in the Indus valley from Demchok, the frontier village of Ladakh, as far down as Nyima. He had also seen it on the Nakpogoding pass to the north of the Tsomoriri, and picked up a horn on the banks of the Sutlej beyond the Niti pass.

DESCRIPTION.—Hair in winter long and softish; facial and lateral markings wanting; breast, belly and anal disk which surrounds the tail dirty white; the rest of the body grizzled fawn-colour, becoming more rusty towards the anal disk, a rusty line sometimes running through the disk to the short tail, the tip of which is rusty brown; the hairs about the corners of the mouth elongated. In the summer the coat is short and of a slaty-grey colour. Ears very short; horns long, annulated—diverge as they rise, bending forwards and backwards, again forwards, and a little inwards at the tips. Skull: anteorbital fossa very shallow, nasals converging to a point, and rather elongated (Sir Victor Brooke, 'P. Z. S.,' 1873, p. 547).

SIZE.—Height, about 18 inches.

There is a lovely little photograph of this gazelle in Kinloch's 'Large Game of Thibet,' wonderfully life-like; the head seems to stand out from the page. He describes it under Hodgson's generic name, Procapra, but there is no reason for separating it from Gazella. He says: "The goa avoid rocky and steep ground, preferring the undulating plains and gently sloping valleys. Early in the season they are to be found in small herds, frequently close to the snow; as this melts they appear to disperse themselves over the higher ground, being often found singly or in twos and threes."


Between the gazelles and antelopes proper comes the chiru (Pantholops Hodgsonii), though strictly speaking it is, with the saiga antelope (Saiga Tartarica), though in a somewhat less degree, connected by cranial affinities with the sheep. The saiga is notable for its highly-arched nose and inflated nostrils, which are so much lengthened as to necessitate the animal's walking backwards when it feeds. The chiru is not quite so developed in this respect. The skull of the saiga is unique among ruminants, and those who wish to become acquainted with its most minute osteological details should refer to an article on this animal by Dr. James Murie in the 'P. Z. S.,' 1870, p. 457. I can only here give a very brief summary of the chief characteristics. Looked at in profile, the nasal bones we find to be remarkably short, the face being hollowed out, as it were, between the upper nasal cartilage and the very long and narrow maxillary and pre-maxillary bones; great vertical depth from the top of the nasal to the bottom of the maxillary bones; a very prominent bovine orbit, above and a little behind which the short tapering horns of a gazelle type are placed. The lower nasal cartilage is prolonged on to the fibrous cord of the nares, and the profile view of the animal in life is that of a grotesquely Roman-nosed antelope with swollen nostrils. Its nearest relative in India is the chiru, which has certain points of resemblance. The nose is but slightly arched, but the nostrils are more swollen than in antelopes as a rule. This is not sufficiently rendered in an otherwise admirable coloured plate in Blanford's 'Scientific Results of the Second Yarkand Mission,' but it is more apparent in the photograph of the head in Kinloch's 'Large Game of Thibet.' Another approach to the saiga is in the position of the horns, which, though of the same class, are much longer and more attenuated, but the position over the eye and the osseous development of the orbit are the same. The nasal bones are also shorter in proportion to other antelopes. The super-orbital foramina just under the horns, which are marked in most antelope and deer, are very minute in Pantholops. Dr. Murie notices the inflation of the post-maxilla in the saiga, and states that a similar extension is to be found in the chiru.


NATIVE NAMES.—Chiru in Nepal; Isos in Thibet (Strachey); also Isors or Choos (Kinloch).

HABITAT.—The open plains of Thibet from Lhassa to Ladakh.

DESCRIPTION.—The following description was written in 1830, apparently by Mr. Brian Hodgson himself, and was published in 'Gleanings in Science' (vol. ii., p. 348), probably the first scientific magazine in India. As I have seen no better account of this curious antelope I give it as it stands. Mr. Hodgson had the advantage of drawing from life, he having had a living specimen as a pet:—

"Antelope with very long, compressed, tapering, sub-erect (? sub-lyrated) horns, having a slight concave arctuation forwards, and blunt annulations (prominently ridged on the frontal surface), except near the tips; a double coat throughout, greyish blue internally, but superficially fawn-coloured above, and white below, a black forehead, and stripes down the legs; and a tumour or tuft above either nostril.

"The ears and tail are moderate and devoid of any peculiarity; so likewise are the sub-orbital sinuses.[38] The horns are exceedingly long, measuring in some individuals nearly 2-1/2 feet. They are placed very forward on the head, and may popularly be said to be erect and straight, though a reference to the specific character will show that they are not strictly one or the other.

"The general surface of the horns is smooth and polished, but its uniformity is broken by a series of from fifteen to twenty rings extending from the base to within six inches of the tip of each horn. Upon the lateral and dorsal surfaces of the horns these rings are little elevated, and present a wavy rather than a ridgy appearance; but on the frontal surface the rings exhibit a succession of heavy, large ridges, with furrows between; the annulation is nowhere acutely edged. The horns have a very considerable lateral compression towards the base, where their extent fore and aft is nearly double of that from side to side; upwards from the base the lateral compression becomes gradually less, and towards their tips the horns are nearly rounded. Compared with their length the thickness of the horns is as nothing—in other words they are slender, but not therefore by any means weak. The tips are acute rather than otherwise; the divergence at the points is from one-third to one-half of the length. At the base a finger can hardly be passed between the horns. Throughout five-sixths of their length from the base the horns describe an uniform slightly inward curve, and on the top angle of the curve they turn inwards again more suddenly, but still slightly, the points of the horns being thus directed inwards; the lateral view of the horns shows a considerable concave arctuation forwards, but chiefly derived from the upper part of the horns."

[Footnote 38: These are wanting.—R. A. S.]

There is an excellent coloured plate of this animal in Blanford's 'Mammalia of the Second Yarkand Mission.' The only fault I see lies in the muzzle, especially of the male, which the artist has made as fine as that of a gazelle. The photograph in Kinloch's 'Large Game of Thibet' shows the puffiness of the nostrils much better; the latter author says of it:—

"The Thibetan antelope is a thoroughly game-looking animal; in size it considerably exceeds the common black buck or antelope of India, and is not so elegantly made. Its colour is a reddish fawn, verging on white in very old individuals. A dark stripe runs down the shoulders and flanks, and the legs are also dark brown. The face alone is nearly black, especially in old bucks. The hair is long and brittle, and extraordinarily thick-set, forming a beautiful velvety cushion, which must most effectually protect the animal from the intense cold of the elevated regions which it inhabits. A peculiarity about this antelope is the existence of two orifices in the groin, which communicate with long tubes running up into the body. The Tartars say that the antelope inflates these with air, and is thereby enabled to run with greater swiftness! The muzzle of the Thibetan antelope is quite different from that of most of the deer and antelope tribe, being thick and puffed looking, with a small rudimentary beard; the eyes are set high up in the head; the sub-orbital sinus is wanting; the horns are singularly handsome, jet black, and of the closest grain, averaging about twenty-three or twenty-four inches in length. They are beautifully adapted for knife handles. The females have short black horns, and are much smaller than the males."

The last is a doubtful point; as far as I have been able to gather evidence on the subject the female appears to be hornless, which allies Pantholops more to the antelopes and the gazelles. Major Kinloch may have taken some young males for females, the general colouring being much the same. In the 'Proceedings of the Zoological Society' for 1834, p. 80, there is an extract from a letter from Mr. Hodgson, which, with reference to previous correspondence, says: "The communications referred to left only the inguinal pores, the number of teats in the female, and the fact of her being cornute or otherwise, doubtful. These points are now cleared up. The female is hornless, and has two teats only; she has no marks on the face or limbs, and is rather smaller than the male. The male has a large pouch at each groin, as in Ant. dorcas; that of the female is considerably smaller." Mr. Hodgson further remarks that "the chiru antelope can only belong either to the gazelline or the antelopine group. Hornless females would place it among the latter; but lyrate horns, ovine nose, and want of sinus, would give it rather to Gazella, and its singular inguinal purses further ally it to Ant. dorcas of this group. But from Gazella it is distinguished by the accessory nostrils, of inter-maxillary pouch, the hornless females, the absence of tufts on the knees, and of bands on the flanks. The chiru, with his bluff bristly nose, his inter-maxillary pouches, and hollow-cored horns, stands in some respects alone."

Hodgson was apparently not well acquainted at the time with saiga, or he would have certainly alluded to the affinity. Kinloch has the following regarding its habits:—

"In Chang Chenmo, where I have met with it, the elevation can be nowhere less than 14,000 feet, and some of the feeding grounds cannot be less than 18,000. In the early part of summer the antelope appear to keep on the higher and more exposed plains and slopes when the snow does not lie; as the season becomes warmer, the snow, which has accumulated on the grassy banks of the streams in the sheltered valleys, begins to dissolve, and the antelope then come down to feed on the grass which grows abundantly in such places, and then is the time when they may easily be stalked and shot. They usually feed only in the mornings and evenings, and in the day-time seek more open and elevated situations, frequently excavating deep holes in the stony plains, in which they lie, with only their heads and horns visible above the surface of the ground. It is a curious fact that females are rarely found in Chang Chenmo; I have met with herds of sixty or seventy bucks, but have only seen one doe to my knowledge during the three times that I visited the valley."

GENUS ANTELOPE (restricted).

Horns in the male only; abnormal cases of horned females are on record, but they only prove the rule. No muffle; sub-orbital sinus moderate, somewhat linear; no canines; groin-pits large; feet-pits present. In the skull the sub-orbital fossa is large.

NO. 461. ANTELOPE BEZOARTICA. The Indian Antelope (Jerdon's No. 228).

NATIVE NAMES.—Mrig or Mirga, Sanscrit; Harna, Hirun, Harin (male) and Hirni (female), Hindi; also Kalwit, Hindi, according to Jerdon; Goria (female) and Kala (male), in Tirhoot; Kalsar (male) and Baoti (female), in Behar; Bureta, in Bhagulpore; Barout and Sasin, in Nepal; Phandayet, Mahrathi (Jerdon). Hiru and Bamuni-hiru, Mahrathi; Chigri, Canarese; Irri (male), Sedi (female), and Jinka, Telegu; Alali (male) and Gandoli (female), of Baoris.

HABITAT.—In open plain country throughout India except in Lower Bengal and Malabar. In the Punjab it does not cross the Indus. Dr. Jerdon says: "I have seen larger herds in the neighbourhood of Jalna in the Deccan than anywhere else—occasionally some thousands together, with black bucks in proportion. Now and then, Dr. Scott informs me, they have been observed in the Government cattle-farm at Hissar in herds calculated at 8000 to 10,000." I must say I have never seen anything like this, although in the North-west, between Aligarh and Delhi, I have noticed very large herds; in the Central provinces thirty to forty make a fair average herd, though smaller ones are more common. These small parties generally consist of does, and perhaps two or three young sandy bucks lorded over by one old black buck, who will not allow any other of his colour to approach without the ordeal of battle. I have lately heard of them in Assam, but forget the precise locality.

DESCRIPTION.—Form supple and elegant, with graceful curves; the neck held up proudly; the head adorned with long, spiral, and closely annulated horns, close at the base, but diverging at the tips in a V form. In very large specimens there are five flexures in the horn, but generally four. They are perfectly round, and taper gradually to the tips, which are smooth; the bony cores are also spiral, so that in the dry skull the horn screws on and off. The colour of the old males is deep blackish-brown, the back and sides with an abrupt line of separation from the white of the belly; the dark colour also extends down the outer surface of the limbs; the back of the head, nape and neck are hoary yellowish; under parts and inside of limbs pure white; the face is black, with a white circle round the eyes and nose; the tail is short; the young males are fawn-coloured. The females are hornless, somewhat smaller, and pale yellowish-fawn above, white below, with a pale streak from the shoulder to the haunch.

SIZE.—Length, about 4 feet to root of tail; tail, 7 inches; height at shoulder, 32 inches. Horns, average length about 20 inches—fine ones 22, unusual 24, very rare 26. Sir Barrow Ellis has or had a pair 26-1/2, with only three flexures; 28 has been recorded by "Triangle" in The Asian, and 30 spoken of elsewhere, but I have as yet seen no proof of the latter. The measurement should be taken straight from base to tip, and not following the curves of the spiral. I have shot some a little over 22, but never more. I believe, however, that the longest horns come from the North-west.

This antelope is so well known that it is hardly necessary to dilate at length on it; every shikari in India has had his own experiences, but I will take from Sir Walter Elliot's account and Dr. Jerdon's some paragraphs concerning the habits of the animal which cannot be improved upon, and add a short extract from my own journals regarding its love of locality:—

"When a herd is met with and alarmed, the does bound away for a short distance, and then turn round to take a look; the buck follows more leisurely, and generally brings up the rear. Before they are much frightened they always bound or spring, and a large herd going off in this way is one of the finest sights imaginable. But when at speed the gallop is like that of any other animal. Some of the herds are so large that one buck has from fifty to sixty does, and the young bucks driven from these large flocks are found wandering in separate herds, sometimes containing as many as thirty individuals of different ages.

"They show some ingenuity in avoiding danger. In pursuing a buck once into a field of toor, I suddenly lost sight of him, and found, after a long search, that he had dropped down among the grain, and lay concealed with his head close to the ground. Coming on another occasion upon a buck and doe with a young fawn, the whole party took to flight, but the fawn being very young, the old ones endeavoured to make it lie down. Finding, however, that it persisted in running after them, the buck turned round and repeatedly knocked it over in a cotton field until it lay still, when they ran off, endeavouring to attract my attention. Young fawns are frequently found concealed and left quite by themselves."—Elliot.

Jerdon adds: "When a herd goes away on the approach of danger, if any of the does are lingering behind, the buck comes up and drives them off after the others, acting as whipper-in, and never allowing one to drop behind. Bucks may often be seen fighting, and are then so intently engaged, their heads often locked together by the horns, that they may be approached very close before the common danger causes them to separate. Bucks with broken horns are often met with, caused by fights; and I have heard of bucks being sometimes caught in this way, some nooses being attached to the horns of a tame one. I have twice seen a wounded antelope pursued by greyhounds drop suddenly into a small ravine, and lie close to the ground, allowing the dogs to pass over it without noticing, and hurry forward." ('Mamm. of India,' p. 278.)

I have myself experienced some curious instances of the hiding propensities spoken of by Sir Walter Elliot and Dr. Jerdon. In my book on Seonee I have given a case of a wounded buck which I rode down to the brink of a river, when he suddenly disappeared. The country was open, and I was so close behind him that it seemed impossible for him to have got out of sight in so short a space of time; but I looked right and left without seeing a trace of him, and, hailing some fishermen on the opposite bank, found that they had not seen him cross. Finally my eye lighted on what seemed to be a couple of sticks projecting from a bed of rushes some four or five feet from the bank. Here was my friend submerged to the tip of his nose, with nothing but the tell-tale horns sticking out.

This antelope attaches itself to localities, and after being driven away for miles will return to its old place. The first buck I ever shot I recovered, after having driven him away for some distance and wounded him, in the very spot I first found him; and the following extract from my journals will show how tenaciously they cling sometimes to favourite places:—

"I was out on the boundary between Khapa and Belgaon, and came across a particularly fine old buck, with very wide-spreading horns; so peculiar were they that I could have sworn to the head amongst a thousand. He was too far for a safe shot when I first saw him, but I could not resist the chance of a snap at him, and tried it, but missed; and I left the place. My work led me again soon after to Belgaon itself, and whilst I was in camp there I found my friend again; but he was very wary; for three days I hunted him about, but could not get a shot. At last I got my chance; it was on the morning of the day I left Belgaon, I rode round by the boundary, when up jumped my friend from a bed of rushes, and took off across country. I followed him cautiously, and found him again with some does about two miles off. A man was ploughing in the field close by; so, hailing him, I got his bullocks and drove them carefully up past the does. We splashed through a nullah, and waded through a lot of rushes, and at last I found myself behind a clump of coarse grass, with a nullah between me and the antelope. They jumped up on my approach, and Blacky, seeing his enemy, made a speedy bolt of it; but I was within easy range of him, and a bullet brought him down on his head with a complete somersault. Now this buck, in spite of the previous shot at him, and being hunted about from day to day, never left his ground, and used to sleep every night in a field near my tent."

This antelope has been raised by the Hindoos amongst the constellations harnessed to the chariot of the moon. Brahmins can feed on its flesh under certain circumstances prescribed by the 'Institutes of Menu,' and it is sometimes tamed by Fakirs. It is easily domesticated, but the bucks are always dangerous when their horns are full grown, especially to children. The breeding season begins in the spring, but fawns of all ages may be seen at any time of the year. The flesh of this species is among the best of the wild ruminants.

* * * * *

The next group of antelopes are those with smooth horns, without knots; spiral in some African species, but short and straight, or but slightly curved in the Indian ones. Females hornless. There are but two genera in India, Portax and Tetraceros.


Horns on back edge of frontal bone behind the orbit, short, recurved, conical and smooth, angular at the base; bovine nose with large moist muffle; small eye-pits; hind legs shorter than the front; tail long and tufted; back short, sloping down from high withers; the neck deep and compressed like a horse, with a short upright mane; on the throat of the male under a white patch is a long tuft of black hair. In the skull the nasal opening is small, and the molars have, according to Dr. Gray, supplementary lobes. Dr. Jerdon says: "There is a small pit in front of the orbit, and anterior to this a small longitudinal fold, in the middle of which there is a pore through which exudes a yellow secretion from the gland beneath."

The female has sometimes in an abnormal condition been found with horns. Mr. J. Cockburn, in a letter to The Asian (11th of November, 1879, p. 40), describes such a one.

NO. 462. PORTAX PICTUS vel TRAGOCAMELUS. The Nylgao or Blue Bull (Jerdon's No. 226).

NATIVE NAMES.—Nilgao, Nilgai, or Lilgao, Lilgai, Rojra or Rojh, Rooi (female), Hindi; Guraya, Gondi; Maravi, Canarese; Manupotu, Telegu.

HABITAT.—India generally, from the Himalayas to the south. It is not common south of the Ganges, nor, according to Jerdon, is it found in the extreme south of India.

DESCRIPTION.—A horse-like animal at the first glance, owing to its lean head, long, flat, and deep neck, and high withers, but with cervine hind-quarters, lower than in front. The male is of an iron grey colour, intensified by age; the inside of the ears, lips, and chin are white; a large white patch on the throat, below which is the pendant tuft of black hair; the chest, stomach, and rings on the fetlocks, white; mane, throat-tuft and tip of tail, black. The female is a sandy or tawny colour, and is somewhat smaller than the male.

SIZE.—Length of male, 6-1/2 to 7 feet; tail 18 to 22 inches; height at shoulder, from 13 to 14-1/2 hands; horns, from 8 to 10 inches.

The nilgao inhabits open country with scrub or scanty tree jungle, also, in the Central provinces, low hilly tracts with open glades and valleys. He feeds on beyr (Zizyphus jujuba) and other trees, and at times even devours such quantities of the intensely acrid berries of the aonla (Phyllanthus emblica) that his flesh becomes saturated with the bitter elements of the fruit. This is most noticeable in soup, less so in a steak, which is at times not bad. The tongue and marrow-bones, however, are generally as much as the sportsman claims, and, in the Central provinces at least, the natives are grateful for all the rest.

He rests during the day in shade, but is less of a nocturnal feeder than the sambar stag. I have found nilgao feeding at all times of the day. The droppings are usually found in one place. The nilgao drinks daily, the sambar only every third day, and many are shot over water. Although he is such an imposing animal, the blue bull is but poor shooting, unless when fairly run down in the open. With a sharp spurt he is easily blown, but if not pressed will gallop for ever. In some parts of India nilgai are speared in this way. I myself preferred shooting them either from a light double-barrelled carbine or large bore pistol when alongside; the jobbing at such a large cow-like animal with a spear was always repugnant to my feelings. They are very tenacious of life. I once knocked one over as I thought dead, and, putting my rifle against a tree, went to help my shikaree to hallal him, when he jumped up, kicked us over, and disappeared in the jungle; I never saw him again. A similar thing happened to a friend who was with me, only he sat upon his supposed dead bull, quietly smoking a cigar and waiting for his shikarees, when up sprang the animal, sending him flying, and vanished. On another occasion, whilst walking through the jungle, I came suddenly on a fine dark male standing chest on to me. I hardly noticed him at first; but, just as he was about to plunge away into the thicket, I rapidly fired, and with a bound he was out of sight. I hunted all over the place and could find no trace of him. At last, by circling round, I suddenly came upon him at about thirty yards off, standing broadside on. I gave him a shot and heard the bullet strike, but there was not the slightest motion. I could hardly believe that he was dead in such a posture. I went up close, and finally stopped in front of him; his neck was stretched out, his mouth open and eyes rolling, but he seemed paralysed. I stepped up close and put a ball through his ear, when he fell dead with a groan. I have never seen anything like it before or since, and can only suppose that the shot in the chest had in some way choked him. I have alluded to this incident in my book on Seonee; it was in that district that it occurred.

The nilgao is the only one of the deer and antelope of India that could be turned to any useful purpose. The sambar stag, though almost equal in size, will not bear the slightest burden, but the nilgao will carry a man. I had one in my collection of animals which I trained, not to saddle, for such a thing would not stay on his back, but to saddle-cloth. He was a little difficult to ride, rather jumpy at times, otherwise his pace was a shuffling trot. I used to take him out into camp with me, and made him earn his grain by carrying the servants' bundles. He was not very safe, for he was, when excited, apt to charge; and a charge from a blue bull with his short sharp horns is not to be despised. In some parts the Hindoos will not touch the flesh of this animal, which they believe to be allied to the cow. It has much more of a horsey look about it. McMaster says that in some parts of the Coimbatore district the natives described this creature to Colonel Douglas Hamilton as a wild horse, and called it by a name signifying such. He also notices the resemblance of the Gondi name Guraya, to the Hindi Ghora.


Horns four, conical, smooth, slightly bent forward at tip, the anterior ones very short, sometimes rudimentary, which has led to the distinction of a separate species by some naturalists; slightly ringed at the base. The posterior ones situated far back on the frontal bone, the anterior ones above the orbits; eye-pits small, linear; muffle large; feet-pits in the hind feet; no groin-pits; four mammae; canine teeth in the males; females hornless. The skull is characterized by the large sub-orbital fossae which occupy nearly the whole cheek. The various species—sub-quadricornutus of Elliot, iodes and paccerois of Hodgson—are but varieties of the following only Indian species.

NO. 463. TETRACEROS QUADRICORNIS. The Four-horned Antelope (Jerdon's No. 227).

NATIVE NAMES.—Chowsingha, Chowka. Jerdon also gives Bherki, Bekra, and Jangli-bakra, but I have also heard these names given by natives to the rib-faced deer (Cervulus aureus); Bhir-kura (the male) and Bhir(female) Gondi; Bhirul of Bheels; Kotri, Bustar; Kond-guri, Canarese; Konda-gori, Telegu (Jerdon). Kinloch also gives Doda, Hindi.

HABITAT.—Throughout India, but not in Ceylon or Burmah.

DESCRIPTION.—A small brownish-bay animal, slightly higher at the croup than at the shoulder, which gives it a poky look, lighter beneath and whitish inside the limbs and in the middle of the belly; fore-legs, muzzle, and edge of ears dark; fetlocks dark, sometimes ringed with lighter colour. The colouring varies a good deal. The horns are situated as I have before described; the anterior ones are subject to much variation; sometimes they are absent or represented merely by a black callous skin; others are merely little knobs; the largest seldom exceed an inch and a-half, and the posterior horns five inches.

SIZE.—Head and body, 40 to 42 inches; height at shoulder, 24 to 26 inches; at croup a little higher.

This little antelope, the smallest of Indian hollow-horned ruminants, is very shy and difficult to get, even in jungles where it abounds. It was plentiful in the Seonee district, yet I seldom came across it, and was long before I secured a pair of live ones for my collection. It frequents, according to my experience, bamboo jungle; but, according to Kinloch, Jerdon and other writers, it is found in jungly hills and open glades, in the forests, and in bushy ground near dense forests.

It is an awkward-looking creature in action, as it runs with its neck stuck out in a poky sort of way, making short leaps; in walking it trips along on the tips of its toes like the little mouse-deer (Meminna). The young are stated to be born in the cold season. General Hardwicke created great confusion for a time by applying the name chikara, which is that of the Gazella Bennetti, to this species. It is not good eating, but can be improved by being well larded with mutton fat when roasted. McMaster believes in the individuality of Elliot's antelope (T. sub-quadricornutus), but more evidence is required before it can be separated from quadricornis. The mere variation in size, or the presence or absence of the anterior horns and the lighter shade of colour, are not sufficient reasons for its separation as a species, for the quadricornis is subject to variation in like manner.[39]

[Footnote 39: See notes in Appendix C.]


These comprise the oxen, and wind up the hollow-horned ruminants as far as India is concerned. There are in the New World some other very interesting animals of this group, such as the musk-ox (Ovibos), and the prong-horned antelope (Antilocapra), which last so far resembles the Cervidae that the horns, which are bifurcate, are also annually shed. They come off the bony core, on which the new horn is already beginning to form.

The Bovines are animals of large size, horned in both sexes, a very large and broad moist muffle, massive bodies and stout legs. The horns, which are laterally wide spread, are supported on cores of cellular bone, and are cylindrical or depressed at the base. The nose broad, with the nostrils at the side. The skull has no sub-orbital pit or fissure, and the bony orbit is prominent; grinders with a well-developed supplementary lobe; cannon bone short. In India, the groups into which this sub-family may be divided, are oxen, the buffaloes, and the yaks. There are no true bison in our limits, the commonly so-called bison being properly a wild ox. The taurine or Ox group is divided into the Zebus, or humped domestic cattle; Taurus, humpless cattle with cylindrical horns; and Gavaeus, humpless cattle with flattened horns.

According to Dr. Jerdon, in some parts of India small herds of zebus have run wild. He says:—

"Localities are recorded in Mysore, Oude, Rohilkund, Shahabad, &c., and I have lately seen and shot one in the Doab near Mozuffernugger. These, however, have only been wild for a few years. Near Nellore, in the Carnatic, on the sea-coast there is a herd of cattle that have been wild for many years. The country they frequent is much covered with jungle and intersected with salt-water creeks and back-waters, and the cattle are as wild and wary as the most feral species. Their horns were very long and upright, and they were of large size. I shot one there in 1843, but had great difficulty in stalking it, and had to follow it across one or two creeks."


Massive head with large concave frontals, surmounted in G. gaurus by a ridge or crest of bone; horns flattened on the outer surface, corrugated at the base, and smooth for the rest of the two-thirds, or a little more; wide-spreading and recurved at the tips, forming a crescent; greenish grey for the basal half, darker towards the tips, which are black; muffle small; dewlap small or absent; the spinous processes of the dorsal vertebrae are greatly developed down to about half the length of the back; legs small under the knee, and white in colour; hoofs small and pointed, leaving a deer-like print in the soil, very different to the splay foot of the buffalo.

NO. 464. GAVAEUS GAURUS. The Gaur, popularly called Bison (Jerdon's No. 238).

NATIVE NAMES.—Gaor or Gaori-gai, Bun-boda, Hindi; Boda and Bunparra in the Seonee and Mandla districts; Pera-maoo of Southern Gonds; Gaoiya, Mahrathi; Karkona, Canarese; Katuyeni, Tamil; Jangli-kulgha in Southern India; Pyoung in Burmah; Salandang in the Malay countries. Horsfield gives the following names under his Bibos asseel: As'l Gayal, Hindi; Seloi, Kuki; P'hanj of the Mughs and Burmese, and some others which he considers doubtful.

HABITAT.—Regarding this, I quote at length from Jerdon, whose inquiries were carefully made. He says: "The gaur is an inhabitant of all the large forests of India, from near Cape Comorin to the foot of the Himalayas. On the west coast of India it is abundant all along the Syhadr range on Western Ghats, both in the forests at the foot of the hills, but more especially in the upland forests and the wooded country beyond the crest of the Ghats. The Animally hills, the Neilgherries, Wynaad, Coorg, the Bababooden hills, the Mahableshwar hills, are all favourite haunts of this fine animal. North of this, it occurs to my own knowledge in the jungles on the Taptee river and the neighbourhood, and north of the Nerbudda; a few on the deeper recesses of the Vindhian mountains. On the eastern side of the peninsula it is found in the Pulney and Dindigul hills, the Shandamungalum range, the Shervaroys, and some of the hill ranges near Vellore and the borders of Mysore. North of this, the forest being too scanty, it does not occur till the Kistna and Godavery rivers; and hence it is to be found in suitable spots all along the range of Eastern Ghats to near Cuttack and Midnapore, extending west far into Central India, and northwards towards the edge of the great plateau which terminates south of the Gangetic valley. According to Hodgson it also occurs in the Himalayan Terai, probably however only towards the eastern portion, and here it is rare, for I have spoken to many sportsmen who have hunted in various parts of the Terai, from Sikhim to Rohilkund, and none have ever come across the gaur at the foot of the Himalayas."—'Mam. of Ind.,' p. 303. (See also Appendix C.)

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