Alarm Call By Spotted Deer
The chital was first described by Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777 as Cervus axis. In 1827, Charles Hamilton Smith placed the chital in its own subgenus Axis under the genus Cervus. Axis was elevated to generic status by Colin P. Groves and Peter Grubb in 1987. The genus Hyelaphus was considered a subgenus of Axis. However, a morphological analysis showed significant differences between Axis and Hyelaphus. A phylogenetic study later that year showed that Hyelaphus is closer to the genus Rusa than Axis. Axis was revealed to be paraphyletic and distant from Hyelaphus in the phylogenetic tree; the chital was found to form a clade with the barasingha (Rucervus duvaucelii) and the Schomburgk's deer (Rucervus schomburgki). The chital was estimated to have genetically diverged from the Rucervus lineage in the Early Pliocene about 5 million years ago. The following cladogram is based on a 2006 phylogenetic study:
Alarm call by Spotted Deer
Releasing them on the island of Hawaii was planned, as well, but this was abandoned after pressure from scientists over damage to landscapes caused by the deer on other islands. In 2012, deer were spotted on the island of Hawaii; wildlife officials believe people had flown the deer by helicopter and transported them by boat onto the island. In August 2012, a helicopter pilot pleaded guilty to transporting four axis deer from Maui to Hawaii. Hawaiian law now prohibits "the intentional possession or interisland transportation or release of wild or feral deer."
Chital are active throughout the day. In the summer, time is spent in rest under shade, and the sun's glare is avoided if the temperature reaches 80 F (27 C); activity peaks as dusk approaches. As days grow cooler, foraging begins before sunrise and peaks by early morning. Activity slows down during midday, when the animals rest or loiter about slowly. Foraging recommences by late afternoon and continues till midnight. They fall asleep a few hours before sunrise, typically in the forest which is cooler than the glades. These deer typically move in a single file on specific tracks, with a distance of two to three times their width between them, when on a journey, typically in search of food and water sources. A study in the Gir National Park (Gujarat, India) showed that chital travel the most in summer of all seasons.
When cautiously inspecting its vicinity, the chital stands motionless and listens with rapt attention, facing the potential danger, if any. This stance may be adopted by nearby individuals, as well. As an antipredator measure, chital flee in groups (unlike the hog deer that disperse on alarm); sprints are often followed by hiding in dense undergrowth. The running chital has its tail raised, exposing the white underparts. The chital can leap and clear fences as high as 1.5 m (4.9 ft) but prefers to dive under them. It stays within 300 m (980 ft) of cover.
A vocal animal, the chital, akin to the North American elk, gives out bellows and alarm barks. Its calls are, however, not as strong as those of elk or red deer; they are mainly coarse bellows or loud growls. Bellowing coincides with rutting. Dominant males guarding females in oestrus make high-pitched growls at less powerful males. Males may moan during aggressive displays or while resting. Chital, mainly females and juveniles, bark persistently when alarmed or if they encounter a predator. Fawns in search of their mother often squeal. The chital can respond to the alarm calls of several animals, such as the common myna and langurs.
Marking behaviour is pronounced in males. Males have well-developed preorbital glands (near the eyes). They stand on their hind legs to reach tall branches and rub the open preorbital glands to deposit their scent there. This posture is also used while foraging. Urine marking is also observed; the smell of urine is typically stronger than that of the deposited scent. Sparring between males begins with the larger male displaying his dominance before the other; this display consists of hissing heading away from the other male with the tail facing him, the nose pointing to the ground, the ears down, the antlers upright, and the upper lip raised. The fur often bristles during the display. The male approaches the other in a slow gait. Males with velvet antlers may hunch over instead of standing erect as the males with hard antlers. The opponents then interlock their horns and push against each other, with the smaller male producing a sound at times which is louder than that produced by sambar deer, but not as much as the barasinga's. The fight terminates with the males stepping backward, or simply leaving and foraging. Fights are not generally serious.
The chital is found in large numbers in dense deciduous or semievergreen forests and open grasslands. The highest numbers of chital are found in the forests of India, where they feed upon tall grass and shrubs. Chital have been also spotted in Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan, which has the only remaining natural sal (Shorea robusta) forest in the country. They do not occur at high altitudes, where they are usually replaced by other species such as the sambar deer. They also prefer heavy forest cover for shade and avoid direct sunlight.
Tracking predators in the Indian National Parks requires a lot of experience. The veteran drivers an guides know their national park well. But even that is not enough at times. It is the knowledge of understanding alarm calls which determines your chances of Tiger sightings during a safari.
As a first timer tourist it is not easy to understand what alarm calls are. It is only when you start hearing them during a safari that you understand their importance. How the drivers, and guides at times change directions in 180 degrees after listening to the alarm calls suggests the importance of understanding alarm calls.
There are direct signs left by a predator which help in tracking them, like, pug marks, scratch marks, spray, droppings or growls. Then their are indirect signs like an alarm call which also helps track them.
There are few things that cannot be explained by words, one needs a practical demonstration. So i thought of explaining what an alarm call is through the below videos i shot myself during a safari in Indian National Parks.
We were tracking the Link 7, a popular male Tiger of Mukki Zone, a.k.a Chotta Munna son of legendary Munna of Kanha. We heard the alarm calls, and i decided to do a small video log on what an alarm call is all about, and how does it sound.
The Axis deer is a beautiful mammal with a spotted body and short tail. Both males and females have markings on their bodies; the markings are white, running in rows along the length of their bodies. The body of Axis deer is bright golden brown in color while the head is a bit lighter shade of the same color. Around their eyes, they have stripes of fur that are paler in color. Males have black spots on their faces and three tines on each of their magnificent antlers. These deer have a dark stripe, running along the length of their back and bordered by a row of spots. The outer parts of their legs are light brown in color while the underparts can be both white and creamy. The Axis deer has a white spot on its throat, which is more noticeable in males. In addition, the tail of the Axis deer has a white underpart.
Feral chital deer are a small-medium sized species. Their coat colour is variable, but is often dark to rusty red with uniformly marked white spots in lines along the body. They have a distinctive white throat patch and a dark muzzle. The coat colour of the inner legs and underside of the belly is white-beige. This species is often found in medium to large groups. Mature males have antlers that are smooth and slender with usually three tines on each, though the number of tines is influenced by animal condition. Antlers may be 70-75cm in length. Males are larger in size and weight than females. Chital have a distinctive high-pitch alarm call when disturbed. Scats are small cylindrical pellets sometimes with an indentation at one end.
These deer are extremely watchfull and alert and will prop their ears up at the first sign of trouble, then they hold their tails upright to signal others in the herd and bound off into the tree line. Males also called stags, have elaborate antlers that are hard and tough during the dry season, but during the wet season, they get richly supplied with blood vessels and develop a fuzzy coat, also called the velvet. But when it is time for the rut, i.e. the mating fights between males for dominance, they sport the hard, tough antlers, which are used to fight with rival competing males.The spotted deer is called so because of the spotted coat that it exhibits all through the year.The feamles or does do not sport antlers and they are always seen protecting the young fawns.
First, the spotted deer approach the water alarm calling as they went and stamping the ground with their forelimbs. Gradually they have the courage to drink. Sambar then approach the water, drink and are then spooked by the alarm calls of the Spotted Deer. Interestingly, the Sambar never alarm called. Whilst all this went on a Cormorant sat serenely on a tree stump in the waterhole.
I visited the Tadoba Tiger Reserve with my husband and daughter during the month of May 2019. The Tadoba Tiger Reserve was established and named after the local deity, Taru in 1955. According to old folklore, the tribal God Taru was killed in a legendary encounter with a tiger and thus on the banks of the river Tadoba was built a shrine devoted to him. The park has gained huge popularity due to the high density of tigers. The landscape of flora and fauna in this national park is vast with deciduous forests filling the entire reserve. It is overshadowed by teak and bamboo. This National reserve is teeming with tigers, sloth bear, spotted deer, wild dogs, leopard, blue bull, wild boar, langur, barking deer, bison, and many more. 041b061a72