Deer / Barasingha
( Cervus duvauceli )
This handsome member
of the deer family is also one that was closest to extinction
a few decades ago. Although their numbers have now revived,
it is still an endangered species and is spread across
central and northern India only in small congregations.
It is a medium size member of the deer family. Smaller
than the Sambar Deer, it weighs in at approximately
180 kgs once fully grown with a height nearing
130 cms. Their famous antlers, by the
time they attain adulthood, develop more than 12 points
and attain lengths up to 75 cms. Their life
expectancy ranges between 20 - 30 years. Although
quite similar in appearance, there are three species
with their own unique traits. Their main diet consists
of grass which they feed on in the vast grasslands
of central and northern India. Some of them have also
been seen eating grass from the bed of wet swamps.
To do this they have to at times completely submerge
their heads and often come out with strands suspended
from their antlers.
Swamp Deer are famous for their antlers
which have 12 points and give them their Indian name "Barasingha"
They are sociable animals and are often found as large
herds grazing in the grasslands of wildlife reserves. The
best time to try and spot them is early morning
and evening when they emerge to feed.
Swamp Deer are sometimes seen in bachelor groups galloping
through grasslands like this "maidan" in Kanha
The breeding season of
the Swamp deer is during the winter months of
November and December. They have a gestation
period of 6 months and have a litter of
mostly just one young. This birth takes
place mostly in tall grass where the vulnerable
baby is concealed from predators. These animals depend
largely on their acute sense of smell to forewarn
them about approaching dangers. The species found in
central India at reserves such as Kanha N.P.
have also adapted to moving into the Sal tree
forest from the grasslands.
Their main habitat
however still remains dry and wet swampy grasslands.
During the breeding season, the males colouration
takes on a darker hue and appear a much darker brown
when compared to that of the rest of the year. The photograph
above was taken during this season. It is also easy to know
that you have arrived during the mating season from the unmistakable
long drawn out mating calls that carry loudly across
the grasslands. These sounded more like "Tarzan yells"
The antlers of the species found
in northern India have a shinier and lighter
Although once found in many forests across the entire country,
the Swamp Deer is now mainly confined to National Parks Dudhwa
( Northern India), Manas, Kaziranga (North Eastern India),
Kanha and Indravati ( Central India).
The Black & White Image on this page is courtesy Royal Tiger Resort
of the month Maps
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