Posts Tagged 'Deer species'

Vanishing Species – Sambar Deer

An article by Mohan Pai

The Indian Sambar Deer

Cervus unicolor niger

The largest Indian deer that carries the grandest of horns.

 

The Sambar is the largest Indian deer and carries the grandest horns. Height at shoulder can be up to 150 cm. A full grown stag weighs between 230 – 325 kg. The male members of this species have antlers that can grow up to a length of 1 m. The coat is coarse and shaggy, males have a mane about the neck and throat. The general color is brown with grayish tinge. Females are lighter in tone. Older stags become very dark, almost black.Sambar is found in the wooded areas of India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka. It is the most common deer species in the world, covering many countries in Asia. It is also one of the larger members of the deer family. Their population is large and spread to almost every corner of India.

Habits:
Sambar prefers staying in the forested hill-sides preferably near cultivation. They are almost nocturnal, feeding mainly at night and retiring by daybreak. Their diet is mainly grass, leaves, various kinds of wild fruit. The capacity of so heavy an animal to move silently through dense jungle is amazing. Sambar takes to water readily and swims with the body submerged, only the face and the antlers showing above surface. These animals have a life expectancy ranging between 16 – 20 years.
 
Breeding:
Their breeding period is mainly during the months of November and December. The gestation period is 6 months. The males by this time have shed their antlers. A new pair start growing almost immediately. It is during this period of their life cycles when they are seen less frequently. The males mostly lead solitary lives and are rarely seen associating with each other, except on some occasions during the rutting season. Sambar stags fight for territory and attempt to attract hinds by vocal and olfactory display. The stag’s harem is limited to a few hinds.
They are the favorite prey species of the tiger. The Sambar has extremely sharp senses of hearing and smell. Its alarm call which is a loud “dhonk” is taken very seriously, unlike that of the spotted or barking deer, by anyone interested in knowing the whereabouts of a predator. A repeated call is accepted as a definite indicator.
 

Pic courtesy: haryanaonline.com
 
These deer are seldom far from water and, although primarily of the tropics, are hardy and may range from sea level up to high elevations such as the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest zone in the Himalayan Mountains sharing its range with the Himalayan musk deer. These deer are found in habitats ranging from tropical seasonal forests (tropical dry forests and seasonal moist evergreen forests), subtropical mixed forests (conifers, broadleaf deciduous, and broadleaf evergreen tree species) to tropical rainforests. Their range covers a vast majority of territory that is classified as tropical rainforest, but their densities are probably very low there. In these areas, the deer probably prefer clearings and areas adjacent to water. In Taiwan, sambar along with sika deer have been raised on farms for their antlers, which they drop annually in April to May.
This deer has been seen congregating in large herds in protected areas such as national parks and reserves in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The subspecies of Indian sambar in India and Sri Lanka are the largest of the genus with the largest antlers. Populations that inhabit the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo seem to have the smallest antlers in proportion to their body size.
 

References: The Book of Indian Animals by S. H. Prater, Wikipedia

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Vanishing Species – Mouse Deer

 

 An article by Mohan Pai 

The Indian Mouse Deer
Or Indian Chevrotain
(Tragulus meminna)

India’s smallest deer, the Mouse deer is a very timid and nocturnal animal difficult to spot in the wild.

This species was widespread and successful from the Oligocene (34 million years ago) to the Miocene (about 5 million years ago), but has remained almost unchanged over that time and remains as an example of primitive ruminant form. Chevrotains have a four-chambered stomach to ferment tough plant foods, but the third chamber is poorly developed. Like other ruminants, they lack upper incisors, and give birth to only a single young, rather than having pig-like litters. The dental formula of chevrotains is the same as that of some smaller deer.
“Chevrotain” is a French word “chevre,” which means “goat,” and it is then made diminutive to denote a “kid.” It is not closely related to a goat. “Deer” comes from the German word “Tier,” which simply means “animal.” The brown coat is speckled with white markings. The body is stocky, with rounded hindquarters. The legs are slender and the feet are four-toed, but the outer toes are small. It has 34 teeth. The upper canines in the male are longer and more pointed than those of the female. This animal grows to about twenty inches long, thirteen inches at the shoulder, and they weigh about six pounds. This nocturnal animal is very timid and disappears in dense vegetation at the least hint of danger. It is thus very difficult to observe in the wild. It is solitary, except for the mating period. Its diet is quite varied, and includes both plants and small animals.

The chevrotains have primitive features, closer to non-ruminants such as pigs. They do not have horns or antlers, but both sexes possess enlarged upper canines. The male’s are prominent and sharp, projecting either side of the lower jaw. Chevrotains have short, thin legs which leave them lacking in agility but also helps to maintain a smaller profile which aids in running through the dense foliage of their environment. Other pig-like features include the presence of four toes on each foot, the absence of facial scent glands, premolars with sharp crowns, and the form of their sexual behaviour and copulation.Chevrotains are solitary animals, and usually interact only to mate. The young are weaned at three months of age, and reach sexual maturity at between five and ten months, depending on species. Parental care is relatively limited. Although they lack the types of scent glands found in most other ruminants, they do possess a chin gland for marking each other as mates or antagonists, and, in the case of the water chevrotain, anal and preputial glands for marking territory. Their territories are relatively small, on the order of 13-24 hectares, but neighbors generally ignore each other, rather than competing aggressively.


Pic: Courtesy Wikipedia

Distribution and habitat
Within India, the Indian chevrotain is commonly encountered in a number of forest areas along the Western Ghats, in the Eastern Ghats up to Orissa, and in the forests of central India. The Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve at the extreme south of the Western Ghats appears to be one of the best localities for the species and may represent a major population stronghold. The species may also be frequently met with in most other protected areas along the Western Ghats such as the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Silent Valley, Mudumalai-Bandipur-Nagarahole, Bhadra, and Kudremukh. Krishnan (1972) notes that the species is seen almost commonly around Karwar and in some forests of south India having also observed the species in the Simlipal hills of Orissa in the east. Along the Eastern Ghats populations of mouse deer occur in the forest tracts along the Nallamal hills and Srisailam Nagarjuna Sagar and also in in Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh.The Indian chevrotain is found in tropical deciduous and moist evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of the Peninsular Indian hills, plains, and plateaux, extending into montane forests up to around 1850 m elevation. They are reported to favour rocky habitats, grass-covered rocky hill-sides and forest seldom far from water, and often occur along forest streams and rivers.

 

Acknowledgements: Wikipedia, Book of Indian Animals by S. H. Prater, America Zoo.

 

MY BLOG LIBRARY

For some of my articles visit:

http://mohanpaiblogger.blogspot.com/http://mohanpaisarticles.blogspot.com/http://biodiversity-mohanpai.blogspot.com/http://delhigreens.com/2008/03/10/whither-the-wilderness/

For some key chapters from my book “The Western Ghats”, please log on to:http://westernghats-paimohan.blogspot.com/

For detailed blog (6 Chapters) on Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, please log on to:http://mohan-pai.blogspot.com/

For the book ‘The Elderly’ please log on to:http://oldagecare-paimohan.blogspot.com/

You can also access my blogs on Sulekha:http://mohanpai.sulekha.com/blog/posts/pageno-1.htm

https://mohanpai.wordpress.com/


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