Efforts are on to conduct the first genetic profiling of swamp deer found in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. Swamp deer or barasingha is the State animal of Uttar Pradesh and one of the five deer species found in the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, located in the Terai region of the State near the Indo-Nepal border.
Genetic profiling of swamp deer in Dudhwa has not been done previously, said Sanjay Pathak, Field Director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
With their numbers estimated at over 3,000, Dudhwa has the largest number of barasingha in the country, Mr. Pathak said.
While the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is already studying barasingha found in the Gangetic Basin in areas around Muzaffarnagar and the Haiderpur wetland, a team from the WII would now also visit the Sharda basin and study barasingha, said Mr. Pathak.
“They will also try and find out about their genetic health,” Mr. Pathak told The Hindu , adding that the antlers of the deer would be studied.
Barasingha found in the Gangetic and Sharda basins would be compared to find out the genetic differences between them.
Mr. Pathak said that, over time, the barasingha in Dudhwa had adapted — earlier, they would rarely be seen outside swamps but are now also spotted in woodlands.
A barasingha stag stands at 135 cm. at the shoulder and weighs 170 to 180 kg, according to the official website of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve.
The colour of the coat, almost woolly in texture, features shades from brown to yellowish brown. Stags have manes and are darker in colour. “The summer coat of stags and hinds is paler, some develop spots, not always distinct, of lighter tone. The young are spotted,” the website says.
Swamp deer are highly gregarious and less nocturnal than the sambar deer, the website adds.
“Their eyesight and hearing are moderate, the sense of smell acute. When alarmed the whole herd sets up a shrill baying sound which is continued in flight. They live more or less in amity till the rut develops,” the website said.