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Rare black spotted deer sighted

V.S. Palaniappan

— Photo: Special Arrangement

Uncommon SIGHT: A black spotted deer at the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary on Sunday.

Parambikulam: In what is considered a very rare event, a black spotted deer was sighted and photographed in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sanjayan Kumar, Wildlife Warden of the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala (abutting the Anaimalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu) said that the spotting and photographing of a black spotted deer in the wild could be the first of its kind, since so far there are no authenticated reports or photographs of black spotted deer in the wild.

This phenomenon of black coat in spotted deer is presumed to be the same as the occurrence of black (melanistic) colour variant in Black Panther or Black leopard i.e. the presence of high melanin pigmentation in the hairs and skin. As in Black Panther a close examination of the black coat of this rare photographed spotted deer also revealed that the typical spots of spotted deer are still there, but are hidden by the excess black pigmentation.

Sanjayan Kumar photographed it during one of his field visits to Parambikulam Range this Sunday.

This report of the presence of black spotted deer will definitely generate interest among Wildlife enthusiasts, Wildlife photographers, researchers etc. for further research and study on the melanistic phenomenon in spotted deer.

In general the spotted deer or Cheetal commonly inhabits Sri Lankan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Indian forests.

It is the most common deer species in Indian forests. Its skin coat is reddish fawn, marked with white spots, and the under parts are white. Its antlers, which it sheds annually, are usually three-pronged and curve in a lyre shape and might extend to 75 cm (2.5 ft).

It has a protracted breeding season, due in part to the tropical climate, and births can occur throughout the year. For this reason, males do not have their antler cycles in synchrony.

There are some fertile females at all times of the year. Males sporting hard antlers are dominant over those in velvet or those without antlers, irrespective of their size.

A Cheetal stands about 90 cm (3 ft) tall at the shoulder and masses about 85 kg and lifespan is around 20-30 years.

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