by K. Narasimmarajan
Chital (Axis axis)
Chital (Axis axis) or/ spotted Deer is one of the common deer found throughout Indian sub-continent and is considered a species belonging to the category of Least Concern (LC) IUCN 2010. The Chital lives in herds with the female leading the group. Chital as ‘the most primitive of Cervid deer; a medium-sized animal with males that weigh between 65 and 86 kg and females that weigh around 56 kg. The first antlers are in the form of spikes that are about 12-13 cm long and as the males grow older, their antlers may well grow to be 1m in length, when measured along the outer edge. First antler shedding takes places around the age of two years. A female Chital may give birth to as many as 3 fawn’s at a time although 2 are more common’. And regarding its habitat choice, Schaller has said, “It is an animal of deciduous forests. It needs water, shade and a terrain that is not high and rugged and grass for forage. Chital are found more in landscapes where the annual rainfall is not less than 75 cm”. According to Schaller (1998) ideal sex ratio is in the order of 70 males to every 100 females (c. 1.4 females to every male). Chital graze as well as browse on a number of species of plants. Although grasses constitute a major portion of their diets, they also eat the leaves and fruits of other plants.
Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra)
The Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) is an ungulate species of antelope native to the Indian Subcontinent. Its range has decreased sharply during the 20th century. Blackbucks are slender with a head-to-body length of about 120 cm (47 in). They are about 73.7 to 83.8 cm (29.0 to 33.0 in) high at the shoulder. Males are larger than females. Adult males range in weight from 34 to 45 kg (75 to 99 lb); females weigh 31 to 39 kg (68 to 86 lb). The tail is short and compressed. Both sexes are white on the belly, around the eyes and on the inside of the legs. They differ in the coloration of the head and back. Female and young blackbucks are yellowish-fawn coloured on the back and on the outside of the limbs; the lower parts are white. The two colours are sharply divided by a distinct pale lateral band. Old male bucks are blackish brown on the back, on the sides and front of the neck. They become almost black with age, only the nape remains brownish rufous, and the pale lateral band disappears. Only males have horns that are diverging, cylindrical, spiral, and ringed throughout. The rings are closer together near the skull. The turns of the spiral vary from less than 3 to 5. Horns are 45.6–68.5 cm (18 – 27 in) long. Blackbucks generally live in open plains, tropical thorn forest and open woodlands in herds of 5 to 50 animals with one dominant male. They are very fast. Speeds of more than 80 km/h (50 mph) have been recorded. They are primarily grazers and avoid forested areas. They require water every day and may move long distances in search of water and forage in summer. Usually, they feed during the day.