CHIRU, a graceful Tibetan antelope (Pantholops Hodgsoni), of which the bucks are armed with long, slender and heavily-ridged horns of an altogether peculiar type, while the does are hornless. Possibly this handsome antelope may be the original of the mythical unicorn, a single buck when seen in profile looking exactly as if it had but one long straight horn. Although far from uncommon, chiru are very wary, and consequently difficult to approach. They are generally found in small parties, although occasionally in herds. They inhabit the desolate plateau of Tibet, at elevations of between 13,000 and 18,000 ft., and, like all Tibetan animals, have a firm thick coat, formed in this instance of close woolly hair of a grey fawn-colour. The most peculiar feature about the chiru is, however, its swollen, puffy nose, which is probably connected with breathing a highly rarefied atmosphere. A second antelope inhabiting the same country as the chiru is the goa (Gazella picticaudata), a member of the gazelle group characterized by the peculiar form of the horns of the bucks and certain features of coloration, whereby it is markedly distinguished from all its kindred save one or two other central Asian species. The chiru, which belongs to the typical or antilopine section of antelopes, is probably allied to the saiga.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)