Dappled deer

Sika deer belongs to species category — deer. These are mammals from the family of artiodactyls that consume certain types of plant food. They are kept in conditionally small groups (herds), in which there is one male and up to five females with cubs. Very secretive and timid, giving priority to deciduous and Manchu type forests.

Origin of the species and description

Photo: Spotted Deer

Photo: Sika deer

The flower deer (spotted deer) has a special place in the deer family. This is due to the fact that he was on the verge of depopulation and therefore listed in the Red Book. All due to the fact that the population of eastern countries, mainly China and Tibet, highly appreciated the therapeutic possibilities of drugs, the basis for the manufacture of which were non-ossified horns. Pantocrine was extracted from the antlers of spotted deer, which had a beneficial effect on the central nervous system.

The cost of the antlers was very high, which is why the hunting for pantache deer increased, and their population was rapidly falling down. At such a rate, at the beginning of the 20th century, there were barely a thousand heads of spotted deer in the USSR, and in some regions of Asia this species completely disappeared. Based on research, paleozoologists have concluded that the pedigree of modern deer is rooted in South Asia. It is believed that sika deer are of more ancient origin, this fact is confirmed by the presence of a simple structure and shape of antlers than red deer.

Appearance and features

Photo: Spotted Deer Red Book

Photo: Spotted Deer Red Book

The spotted deer is rather small in comparison with other relatives. It has a graceful and slender physique. The body of both individuals is short, the sacrum has a rounded shape. Incredibly mobile. Thanks to this, they can develop fast speed, and reach a jump height of up to 2.5 meters, and a length of up to 8 meters.

Only males have horns. The shape of the crown is relatively proportional with not much weight. The length and weight of the horns of the beast changes in the process of its growth, and it can be from 65 to 80 cm on the horns there are no more than five processes, in rare cases there are six. The processes are smooth to the touch, have a yellowish almost straw color, brown closer to the base. The color of the animal's fur depends on the season. In summer, the fur has a pronounced red color, which, as it descends to the belly, turns into a lighter one. The back is covered with relatively dark fur, and the legs are painted pale red.

A characteristic feature is the presence of white spots that are distributed along the back. At the same time, in the summer, on the sides and hips, their number is less and the outlines are not so rough. In addition, not all adults have them, and as spring arrives, they completely disappear. With the onset of winter, the fur of males changes, acquiring a gray sometimes dark brown color, and becoming light gray in females. The color of the mirror remains almost unchanged – white, which is located in the inner part of the thighs. Moulting in animals occurs in April and September.

The mass of a mature male varies within 115 — 140 kg, females 65 — 95 kg, height at the withers can reach up to 115 cm, and body length 160 — 180 cm. Life expectancy of spotted deer in the wild is up to 14 years, in captivity 18 & # 8212; 20 years old

Where do sika deer live?

Photo: Ussuri Sika deer

Photo: Ussuri Sika deer

The homelands of the sika deer include countries such as China, Korea, North Vietnam and Taiwan. It is also adapted to stay in the Caucasus, Europe, the USA and New Zealand. But Japan and the Far East became the most favorable environment for this species of animals. Especially in Japan and Hokkaido Prefecture, their population has recovered due to the extermination of wolves, and the number of hunters is at a minimum.

Each species has certain requirements for living conditions:

  • Sika deer prefer broad-leaved oak forests rather than broad-leaved cedar forests, although it is sometimes found in the latter;
  • Marals stay in the upper part of the forest and in the area of ​​alpine meadows;
  • Tugai deer (Bukhara ) will select shrubs and dense thickets along the banks of a river or lake.

In the Far East, the animal can be found in Primorye. The most suitable terrain is in the southern parts of the Primorsky Territory, this is due to the fact that the snow does not lie more than 8 & # 8212; 10 days, and also thanks to the Manchurian type forest with good undergrowth. Quite rarely, they can be found in open areas, in which precipitation in the form of snow can pass the mark of 600 — 800 mm. Since these weather conditions are very severe and make movement much more difficult, and the animal is more exhausted.

Beginning in the 1930s, attempts were made in the USSR to adapt deer, with the subsequent restoration of the gene pool. To do this, they were brought to reserves (olensovkhozes), the environment of which was favorable for their existence, namely:

  • Sukhudzinsky reserve;
  • Ilmensky reserve (located in the Urals); /li>
  • Kuibyshev Reserve;
  • Teberdinsky Reserve;
  • Khopersky Reserve;
  • Okkomsky Reserve;
  • Mordovsky Reserve.

In some cases, this was successful, but there are also those where the hunt for the animal did not stop and reached a critical point, which led to almost complete disappearance.

What do sika deer eat?

Photo: Animal Sika Deer

Photo: Animal Sika Deer

The deer's diet includes more than 390 varieties of plants, most of which consist of tree branches and shrubs. In the Primorsky Territory, tall grass is in the foreground rather than tree and shrub food. In summer, the main delicacy is: acorns, leaves, buds, young shoots and thin branches, thickets of linden, oak, and Manchurian aralia.

But no less preferred are Manchurian walnut, Amur grapes and velvet, lespedeza, acanthopanax, elm, maples, ash, sedges, umbrella and other types of deciduous trees in summer. In anticipation of winter, the animal feeds on those plant species that are able to satisfy nutritional needs during fattening.

Also, this diet sometimes occurs in the second half of winter:

  • acorns, nuts, fruits beech;
  • branches of hazel, oak, aspen, willow, chozeni, bird cherry, alder, euonymus;
  • shoots of young pines, elms, euonymus, brittle buckthorn;
  • spruce bark.

Deer are not averse to eating kelp and zoster algae, which contain the salt content necessary for animals. If there are feeders in the forest, deer are not averse to eating hay. In the process of searching for the necessary minerals, deer enter the area of ​​warm mineral springs. There they can lick algae, ash and other waste from the sea that ended up on the shore. Animals that are adapted to the southern terrain visit areas with artificial salt licks.

The territory on which deer are located depends on their number in the herd. If a loner has a plot of 200 ha, while a male with a group of females will have up to 400 ha. Larger herds cover an area of ​​800 — 900 ha.

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: Sika deer in Russia

Photo: Sika deer in Russia

The sika deer is quite shy and very secretive. Meeting with this prudent beast in an open area, not counting the dense thickets, is equal to zero. Hear the approach of an unwanted guest or predator, he can at a fairly large distance. Since it has a keen hearing and a very developed sense of smell. With the change of the season, the behavior of the animal also changes.

Summer — deer are in constant motion and active feeding. In winter, the energy drops noticeably, they become inactive, more often they remain on the bed. Only with a strong wind movement, it becomes necessary to seek shelter in a denser forest. Sika deer — agile and resilient. They are excellent swimmers, they can overcome the distance in the sea up to 12 km.

The animal is prone to infectious diseases, cases of diseases have been recorded:

  • rabies, necrobacteriosis, pasteurellosis, anthrax and tuberculosis;
  • ringworm, candidiasis;
  • dicroisliosis, helminths (flat, round and tapeworm);
  • ticks, midges, gadflies, lice eaters and others from the family of ectoparasites.

The last of the above, cause discomfort and anxiety.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Baby Sika Deer

Photo: Sika deer calf

Deer puberty occurs at 1 year and 6 months, but often females roam at three years. Males are ready to fertilize not earlier than four years. The mating season begins in September and ends in early November. The duration of which is 30 — 35 days. During this period, the roar of the male is heard at distances up to several hundred meters. Mating takes place within a few days, this is due to the fact that the female may not be fertilized. The process takes place several times with a short period of time, on specially hoofed male — currents.

Pregnancy duration can be 215 — 225 days or (7.5 months). One calf is always born and, in exceptional cases, twins. Calving occurs in May, rarely in June. A newborn fawn can weigh from 4.5 to 7 kg. The udder of the mother, the newly born calf begins to suck almost immediately after the appearance, after a couple of hours it takes the first steps. Calves can start grazing in 15 — 20 days after birth, and suck the udder until the next calving, if it is not beaten off from the mother.

Young offspring develop more intensively in summer, with the advent of winter, these processes slow down a little. Only after the second year of life there are characteristic differences, the female remains small in size, and the male acquires small tubercles at the base of the skull, which eventually grow into horns.

Natural enemies of the sika deer

Photo: Wild Sika Deer

Photo: Wild Sika Deer

Sorry, the sika deer has a large number of ill-wishers, among which are:

  • wolves (sometimes raccoon dogs);
  • tigers, leopards, snow leopard;
  • brown bear (attacks relatively rarely);
  • foxes, martens, wild cats (prey on the younger generation).

Compared to other predators, gray wolves caused no small damage to this species. Wolves hunt in a pack, driving and surrounding a small herd. This mainly occurs in winter and early spring, when the movement of spotted deer is much more difficult. The weakness and lethargy of the animal, caused by the lack of the required amount of food, also affects. Loners are more likely to become prey to the feline family, they are specialized predators.

An unsuspecting deer can be ambushed. Since these cats are able to move even on loose snow, there is practically no way for the victim to escape. In snowy and cold winters, the animal can die from exhaustion, because it is not able to get food for itself. It becomes weakened and painful, which attracts predators of medium and small sizes. The only way to protect yourself is to run away. It should not be forgotten that the animals suffered a lot from the intervention of people who hunted for young antlers to make medicine.

Population and species status

Photo: Red Book Sika Deer

Photo: Spotted deer from the Red Book

In the Red Book, the spotted deer has the status of category 2 — «decreasing in numbers».
A strong decline in the population of an extremely fragile species is associated with living in unstable and prone to sudden changes in climatic conditions. Announcements of constant hunting, due to the extraction of skins, meat and antlers.

There are other not unimportant factors:

  • studying a new area with subsequent deforestation;
  • a large number of wolves, wild dogs and other predators;
  • construction of new settlements, near and in the territory where the animal lives;
  • susceptibility to infectious diseases, hunger;
  • inability domestication.

Attempts have been made to keep deer in parks and reserves. In some, the animals were fed year-round without access to pastures. In others, they received additional food only in the winter and grazed freely in the lands. But the slow recovery of trees and dense shrubs affected the quality of nutrition, which in turn deteriorated sharply. This was the main reason for deer leaving the pastures.

Having closely related deer without separation affected life expectancy. The susceptibility to disease increased, the females became lethargic and unable to produce offspring in the future. Nevertheless, partial restoration of the species was achieved in Primorsky Krai, thanks to a balanced system for the use of natural resources, and partial protection of the animal.

Sika deer conservation

Photo: Spotted Deer

Photo: Sika deer

Spotted deer are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List. The primary task of which is to protect and maintain the life of rare species that are on the verge of extinction. Species that are included in the Red Book of the post-Soviet countries automatically acquire protection at the legislative level. Because it is a strong legal document and has practical guidelines for the protection of endangered species.

Following a number of changes and conservation attempts, this led to the study of features:

  • habitat (geographic distribution);
  • numbers and structure within herds;
  • biological characteristics (breeding season);
  • migration characteristics depending on the season (but mostly animals do not leave their territories, which stretch for hundreds of hectares).

Currently, there is a trend of active degeneration of the population in the wild, and increased attention is paid to nature reserves and the territories adjacent to them. A number of measures were developed that acquired legal force after their adoption as a state program.

An important task was:

  • preservation of the biological species of deer (if possible, avoiding mixing of species);
  • restoration of reserves in which animals live;
  • change and creation of new protected areas;
  • optimal protection from predators and poachers (the first is due to the shooting of wolves) .

Despite the established hunting ban, the number of wild spotted deer practically does not change, and periodically decreases. This is due to the fact that poachers continue to cause great damage, chasing the animal in order to win a valuable trophy in the form of a luxurious skin or young unossified horns — antlers. It is not known whether there is a possibility of expanding the borders of nurseries in the future, the primary function of which will be not only the extraction of antlers, but also the replenishment of the gene pool as a whole. The spotted deer needs human protection, otherwise we may soon lose this beautiful animal.

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