Wild Fact #316 – One Large Deer – Sambar

Sambar | Large Deer Species

Photo by Wikigringo (Wikimedia)

It is time to celebrate the end of the week and the beginning of the weekend, unless you are on shift work, in which case, who knows when you are off next. Regardless whether or not you are about to start your next set of shifts or if you are winding down for a much needed 2 days off, I can guarantee you will be entertained by the Sambar. This large deer species, native to southern and southeast Asia, is a spectacular animal that has caused much confusion throughout their life. How could a deer confuse people? Let’s find out!

So Confused!

The Sambar has messed with the most carefully planned taxonomicsystems for years. The poor, frustrated biologists have been trying to get a handle on the animal species that exist on our planet, however, when you have creatures such as the Sambar……it makes it difficult. The size and appearance of this deer species greatly varies across their distribution range. This variance has lead to over 40 different scientific synonyms for the Sambar. I just hope the biologists created their taxonomic descriptions in pencil.

Juvenile Sambar

Juvenile Sambar - Photo by Paul and Jill (Wikimedia)

Is This Spot Normal?

In general, the Sambar is a large deer, with a height somewhere between 102 – 160 cm (40 – 63″) and the capability of reaching a weight of 546 kg (1200 lbs). To make this animal even more intimidating are the 110 cm (43″) long antlers sitting on top of their head. This is probably not an animal you would want chasing after you. On the other side of their body, the Sambar is known to have a relatively long tail…for a deer, which is black with a white underside. As well, you can always tell an adult male (or a pregnant/nursing female) by the hairless, bright red spot located on their neck. Even more bizarre is the fact that this spot is known to produce a white liquid. What does this do? I have no idea, but I am guessing it plays a role in scent marking or in the courtship process (or both). Do you have any suggestions about what this spot does for the Sambar?

Introduced Species

Although, they are native to southern and southeast Asia, this deer has also been introduced into Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America (in Florida). The wild Sambar population is considered to be “Vulnerable”, however, in these introduced areas, hunting is permitted to ensure their population doesn’t damage the native ecosystem.

Have you ever witnessed this beautiful deer species? Let us know in the comments!

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