Hog Deer:: Threatened with extinction


 Hog deer (Axis pornicus)  or Xugori Pahu (Assamese), is a small tropical deer which inhabits grasslands. It is named as 'Hog' deer because of its habit of running through the undergrowth in a head down posture. The coat color is brown with yellowish or reddish tinge and many have a speckled appearance.
The fawns usually have white spots on their skin. They stand at the height less than a meter. The males being slightly larger than females. They weigh 35-45kg and only males have antlers which is a characteristic of deer group. It is a solitary animal but congregates together during feeding. Mother-fawn association can be seen after the fawning season. The lifespan of hog deer is 15-18 years.

Distribution and Population

Historically hog deer was known to occur from Pakistan, northern & northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Lao PDR. But it has undergone dramatic range-wide declines largely, unnoticed. presently it is known to occur in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar. The species most likely extirpated from China, Lao PDR, and Vietnam and has been reintroduced in Thailand.

Hog deer occurs relatively in good numbers in the terai and duars region of Nepal and India. But elsewhere the number has reduced drastically; existing is small sub-populations. It is mostly confined to the protected areas and occurs in very low number outside the protected areas.


Habitat

Hog deer is a predominantly grassland species, known to inhabit tall moist grasslands. In India and Nepal, they are known to show a strong preference for Imperata cylindrica, Sachharum spp.


Importance 

Hogs deer plays a very significant ecological role and forms the major prey base to the large carnivores like tigers and leopards where they co-exist. it is obligate of grassland and helps regulate the grassland ecosystem.


Conservation Status

Hog deer population appeared to be abundant and hence prior to 2008, it was not listed as threatened. But extinction from most of its former ranges and drastic decline in their numbers lead the hog deer to be categorized as  Schedule -I species by Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and it is listed on CITES Appendix I



Threats

Hunting- one of the primary threats

Habitat loss- Its preferred habitat is grassland and it faces a continuous threat from spatial decline of the grassland habitat

Habitat degradation-various anthropogenic activities like livestock grazing, collection non-timber forest product


 Spread invasive plant species further degrade the available habitats.


Presence domestic/feral dogs


Diseases from livestock


How can you save the hog deer 

Say no to hog deer hunting and meat consumption

Protects its natural habitat by eliminating anthropogenic disturbance

Avoid uncontrolled burning of grasslands

Aware people of its importance and conservation needs


Acknowledgement

I duly acknowledge Alolika Sinha , Bibhuti Lahkar and Jyoti P.Das (Aaranyak) for this post.



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