Animal Info - Barasingha

(Other Names: 印度沼鹿, 沼鹿, バラシンガジカ, Barasinga, Cerf de Duvaucel, Ciervo de Duvaucel, Gond, Swamp Deer)

Cervus duvaucelii

Status: Vulnerable


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Age and Gender Distribution, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Barasingha #1 (52 Kb JPEG) (Czech Web Site); Barasingha #2 (33 Kb JPEG) (Les Cerfs)

The barasingha weighs 170 - 180 kg (370 - 400 lb). It occurs in a wide range of habitats, especially preferring marshes, where it can be highly aquatic, and grassy areas close to water. It also occurs in a variety of forest types. It eats mainly grasses. The barasingha can be active during the day or at night. It associates in mixed herds of males and females for most of the year, averaging about 10 - 20 animals in a herd.

The barasingha was formerly located in suitable localities throughout the basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers as well as central India. Its population has declined significantly. Currently, it is restricted to India and Nepal in a northern population in the terai of Uttar Pradesh and adjoining Nepal and Assam, as well as a southern population in Madhya Pradesh.

The drastic decline of the barasingha is due predominantly to loss or modification of its habitat for cultivation or tree plantations, such as the planting of eucalyptus. Poaching and shooting for (allegedly) crop protection has also had a major impact. Diseases introduced by cattle may also have been a factor.


Tidbits

*** "The sight or smell of a tiger appears to arouse the curiosity of the barasingha... On one occasion a tigress with 4 cubs rested in a thicket after a meal.   Seven stags passed by and scented the tigers, then milled around at the edge of the thicket barking sporadically.  One yearling stag entered the undergrowth for a distance of about 5', as if attempting to obtain a better view in the high grass..." (Schaller 1967)

*** There are 3 subspecies of the barasingha (Cervus duvauceli).   They are (with the countries where they exist or have existed): Cervus duvauceli duvauceli (wetland barasingha) (India, Nepal); C. d. branderi (upland barasingha) (currently a single population in Madhya Pradesh, India); C. d. ranjitsinhi (currently a single population in Assam, northeast India, Bangladesh (extinct)). (Wemmer et al. 1998)

*** "The common belief among wildlife conservationists is that the last stronghold of C. d. duvauceli in Uttar Pradesh is Dudhwa National Park and its adjoining Kishanpur and Katerniaghat wildlife sanctuaries. However, there are areas along the Ganga that support good populations of barasingha but are badly neglected by wildlife managers. One such area is the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary where barasingha exist but little is known about this population..." (Khan 1999)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Barasingha Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in India and Nepal (IUCN 2004).

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The barasingha was formerly located in suitable localities throughout the basins of the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers as well as central India as far south as the Godavari River, generally in areas covered by moist, deciduous forests. In the 19th century it occurred along the base of the Himalayas from Upper Assam, in a few places in the Indo-Gangetic plain from the Eastern Sundarbans to Bahawalpur to Rohri in Upper Sind, and locally throughout the area between the Ganges and Godavari as far east as Mandla.

In the early 20th century it was found primarily in the marshes bordering the Himalayas and along some of the rivers in the Gangetic basin; in Assam, India it was common in the Brahmaputra River valley; in central India, it was found in scattered pockets mostly south of the Narmada River in what is now the state of Madhya Pradesh. By the middle 1960's, populations were small and isolated and declining rapidly. At that time it was found in greatest concentration in Uttar Pradesh and the adjoining area of southwest Nepal; scattered small herds also occurred in northern Bengal, Assam and Madhya Pradesh. Currently it is found in several localities in the terai of southern Nepal and adjacent districts of India, and in Assam and Madhya Pradesh, India (Wemmer et al. 1998).

Distribution Map (5 Kb GIF) (Huffman 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The causes of the barasingha's decline and present threats include destruction or modification of its habitat for wetland reclamation, grass and timber cutting, illegal gathering of fuelwood and other resources in reserves, and cultivation or tree plantations; poaching; and shooting for (allegedly) crop protection. Diseases introduced by cattle may also have been a factor.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The barasingha weighs 170 - 180 kg (370 - 400 lb).

Habitat:

The barasingha occupies a wide variety of forest types, including dry and moist deciduous forest, mangrove forest and evergreen forest, but its prime habitat in the past has been grasslands and reed beds bordering the major rivers in the northern part of its range. Regardless of the vegetation type, it prefers areas with water; flat to moderately hilly terrain; and open localities comprised of either marshes and grasslands or of woodlands with an understory of grasses.

The altitudinal range of the barasingha is between 100 - 300 m (330 - 980').  It inhabits flooded tall grassland and open sal (Shorea robusta) forest with a grass understory.  The upland barasingha occupies drier habitat. (Wemmer et al. 1998)

The barasingha is one of the species that live in the Indo-Burma Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl.) as well as the Terai-Duar Savannas & Grasslands and the Eastern Indian Monsoon Forests Global 200 Ecoregions. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

More than 2 years (females).

Gestation Period:

240 - 250 days.

Birth Season:

The mating season may extend from September to April.

Births occurred from August  - November, with a peak in September - October (Kanha National Park, India) (Schaller 1967)

Birth Rate:

1 young per litter; time between births is 1 year.

Maximum Age:

23 years (captivity) (Nowak 1999)

Diet:

The barasingha eats mainly grasses, but the wetland barasingha occasionally feeds on aquatic plants. Aquatic plants also contribute significantly to the diet of C. d. ranjitsinhi during the monsoon and winter. (Wemmer et al. 1998)

Behavior:

The barasingha can be active during the day or at night. It drinks at least twice a day during the hot season, traveling to a water hole soon after daylight and in the late afternoon. 

Social Organization:

  • In central India, the majority of the barasingha were found in mixed herds for the first 8 months of the year, with the ratio of females to males being about 2:1. In three areas the herds averaged 8, 8, and 13 - 19 animals respectively, with larger herds comprising 45 - 61 animals. For the remainder of the year the herds were smaller and many animals were solitary.
  • During the peak of the rut .. the barasingha form breeding herds, numbering 30 - 50 individuals each, composed of a number of adult males, females, and young.  Males establish a dominance hierarchy, with the highest ranking male taking priority to any estrous female.   The composition of the herd changes somewhat from day to day, but the same animals tend to associate for a week or more...

(Schaller 1967)

In Dudhwa National Park, India, mean group sizes during summer, monsoon, and winter were 32, 13 and 7 respectively.  Congregations of up to 250 individuals have been seen. (Wemmer et al. 1998)

Age and Gender Distribution:

The ratios of adult males:adult females:fawns for several localities in India in the 1960's were as follows (the fraction of females has been set to = 100 in all cases):

  • 90:100:15 (January 1, 1964; total population ~ 82; Kanha National Park)
  • 104:100:16 (January 1, 1965; total population ~ 55; Kanha National Park)
  • 69:100:40 (February 25 - March 5; total population ~ 70 - 80; West Kheri Forest)
  • 88:100:33 (April 30 - May 7; total population ~ 200 - 250; Kaziranga Sanctuary)

(Schaller 1967)

Density and Range:

0.2 individuals/sq km (0.6 individuals/sq mi) (total ~ 75 individuals; Kanha National Park, India); biomass ~  37 kg/sq km (assuming average weight = 160 kg) (213 lb/sq mi (assuming average weight = 350 lb)) . (Schaller 1967)


References

Burton & Pearson 1987, Caughley & Gunn 1996, Coe 1979, Cons. Intl., Curry-Lindahl 1972, Czech Web Site, Henshaw 1994, Huffman 2004, Holloway 1973, IUCN 1969, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Khan 1999, Les Cerfs, Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1999, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1973c, Oryx 1978c, Schaller 1967, Wemmer et al. 1998


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Last modified: January 10, 2005;

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