Barasingha Conservation status Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Artiodactyla Family: Cervidae Genus: Rucervus Species: R. duvaucelii Binomial name Rucervus duvaucelii
(G. Cuvier, 1823)
Historic range (yellow); relict populations: duvaucelii (red); branderi (green); ranjitsinhi (blue)
The Barasingha or Swamp deer (Rucervus duvaucelii) is a deer species currently found in isolated localities in north and central India, and southwestern Nepal, and is extinct in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The binomial commemorates the French naturalist Alfred Duvaucel.
The most striking feature of a barasingha is its antlers, with 10 to 14 tines on a mature stag, though some have been known to have up to 20. The name is derived from this characteristic and means 12 tined or horned in Hindi. In Assamese, barasingha is called dolhorina; dol meaning swamp. In Central India it is called goinjak (stags) or gaoni (hinds).
A stag may stand 132 cm (52 in) at the shoulder and weigh 170 to 180 kg (370 to 400 lb). Average antlers may measure 75 cm (30 in) round the curve with a girth of 13 cm (5.1 in) at mid beam. A record antler measured 104.1 cm (41.0 in) round the curve.
Distribution and habitat
Barasinghas used to inhabit the basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, as well as central India as far as the Godavari River. Bones aging over a thousand years have been found in the Langhanj site in Gujarat. Today, barasinghas have disappeared entirely from the western part of their range. In 1964, the total population in India was estimated at 3000 to 4000 individuals.
In northeastern India, the surviving animals are found in Assam. The Swamp deer's main concentration in Assam is in Kaziranga National Park with a few survivors in Manas National Park. It is in all probability extinct in Arunachal Pradesh.
Two geographic races were earlier recognized. The nominate duvauceli which is swamp-dwelling and found in the Terai of Uttar Pradesh, Assam and in the Sunderbans. This race has splayed hooves that help in moving on the soft ground and has a larger skull. The race branderi (named after A. A. Dunbar Brander) is found on hard ground in Central India, chiefly in Madhya Pradesh. The race in Assam was subsequently assigned to a new race ranjitsinhi after M. K. Ranjitsinh. This race is considered the most threatened.
In central India, Barasingha disappeared from all but the Kanha National Park. Even here, from an estimated 3000 individuals in the early 1950s, within a decade less than 100 survived. And the number touched an all time low of 66 in 1970.
Ecology and behaviour
In central India, the herds comprise on average about 8-20 individuals, with large herds of up to 60. There are twice as many females than males. During the rut they form large herds of adults. The breeding season lasts from September to April, and births occur after a gestation of 240-250 days in August to November. The peak is in September October in Kanha National Park.
They feed in the mornings and in the evenings. They are less nocturnal than the Sambar deer. When alarmed they give out a shrill baying alarm call.
They give birth to a single calf. Captive specimens live up to 23 years.
Hunting, poaching and, more important, diversion of the bulk of grassland to agriculture, are considered the main causes of their reduced numbers. Tall grass is not only their food but also provides security for young fawns during the breeding season.
George Schaller wrote in The Deer and The Tiger, "Most of these remnants have or soon will have reached the point of no return." The warning, however, was heeded in time. Concerted efforts at saving this species from extinction were made and have now borne fruit. Today, their count has crossed the five hundred mark.
Along with Indian Blackbuck, Nilgai and many other exotic deer and antelope from Africa, there are also swamp deer living wild in hunting ranches in Texas. They were brought to USA almost 100 years ago for sport hunting. Hunters for whom bagging a stag with huge antlers with as many points as possible is a novelty, pay about $4000 as trophy fees for hunting a swamp deer, 10% of which is supposed to go back to India to preserve it and its habitat in its true home range where it is close to extinction. It is US Government policy now that 10% of trophy fees for hunting an exotic species found on hunting ranches in USA should be sent back for the preservation of that species and its original habitat.
Rudyard Kipling in The Second Jungle Book featured a barasingha in the chapter "The Miracle of Purun Bhagat" by the name of "barasingh." It befriends Purun Bhagat because the man rubs the stag's velvet off his horns. Purun Bhagat then gives the barasinga nights in the shrine he is staying at with his warm fire, along with a few fresh chestnuts every now and then. Later as pay, the stag warns Purun Bhagat and his town about how the mountain they live on is crumbling.
- ^ Grubb, Peter (16 November 2005). Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). pp. 668–669. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14200429.
- ^ a b Duckworth, J.W., Samba Kumar, N., Chiranjibi Prasad Pokheral, Sagar Baral, H., Timmins, R.J. (2008). Rucervus duvaucelii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 5 April 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of vulnerable.
- ^ a b c d e Prater, S. H. (1948) The book of Indian animals. Oxford University Press. (10th impression)
- ^ Choudhury, A. U. (1997) Checklist of the mammals of Assam. Revised 2nd edition. Gibbon Books & Assam Science Technology & Environment Council, Guwahati, India. 103pp. ISBN 81-900866-O-X
- ^ Choudhury, A.U.(2004). Kaziranga: Wildlife in Assam. Rupa & Co., New Delhi.
- ^ Choudhury, A. U. (1987). Railway threat to Kaziranga. 'Oryx' 21: 160–163.
- ^ Choudhury, A. U. (1986). Manas Sanctuary threatened by extraneous factors. The Sentinel 16 February.
- ^ Choudhury, A. U. (2003). The mammals of Arunachal Pradesh. Regency Publications, New Delhi. 140pp.
- ^ Groves, Colin (1983). "Geographic variation in the Barasingha or Swamp Deer (Cervus duvauceli)". J. Bombay N.H. Soc. 79: 620–629.
- ^ Animal Info - Barasinha
- ^ a b Schaller, G.B. (1967) The Deer and the Tiger - A Study of Wildlife in India. University Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.
- M. Acharya, M. Barad, S.Bhalani, P. Bilgi, M.Panchal, V.Shrimali, W. Solanki, D.M. Thumber. Kanha Chronicle, Centre for Environment Education, Ahmedabad in collaboration with the United States National Park Service.
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barasingha — ba·ra·sin·gha … English syllables
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