Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 December 2022 | 14(12): 22341–22345



ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print)

#7987 | Received 25 February 2022 | Final received 06 June 2022 | Finally accepted 23 November 2022




First photographic record of Spotted Deer Axis axis (Erxleben, 1777) (Artiodactyla: Cervidae) in Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra, India


Shaheer Khan 1, S. Ramesh Kumar 2 & Bilal Habib 3


1,3 Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001, India.

2 Maharashtra Forest Department, Maharashtra 440001, India.

1, 2, 3 (corresponding author)




Editor: L.A.K. Singh, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India.         Date of publication: 26 December 2022 (online & print)


Citation: Khan, S., S.R. Kumar & B. Habib (2022). First photographic record of Spotted Deer Axis axis (Erxleben, 1777) (Artiodactyla: Cervidae) in Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, Maharashtra, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 14(12): 22341–22345.


Copyright: © Khan et al. 2022. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: Department of Science and Technology (DST) Govt. of India.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: We are thankful to the Maharashtra Forest Department for the permissions to conduct research in Maharashtra. Department of Science and Technology (DST) Govt. of India are duly acknowledged for funding provided to carry out the research. We are also grateful to the forest officials and especially our field assistants Daut Shaikh, Shiv Kumar Bapu More and Sarang Mhamane. We also thank Satish Devkar and Rahul Patil for providing help during the field work. We thank the Director, Dean, and Research Coordinator of the Wildlife Institute of India for supporting the study.




Abstract: Axis axis also known as Chital, Spotted Deer or Axis Deer, is native to Asia. The Chital ranges over 8–30 0N in India and through Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Chital is listed as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because it possesses a very wide range, however, the population is declining outside protected areas. Although widely distributed, there is no record of Chital from the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary, Maharashtra. Here we report the first photographic record of Chital from the sanctuary, in the Gangewadi region of Solapur District. During a field work exercise for radio collaring of Indian Grey Wolves to monitor movement in the human-dominated landscape of Maharashtra, camera traps were placed in the Gangewadi area of the GIB sanctuary. Over the survey period, the species that were photo-captured included the Indian Grey Wolves, Indian Fox, Jungle Cat, Black Buck, Wild Boar, porcupine, and Black-naped Hare on multiple occasions. The male Spotted Deer was captured at one event in a single camera trap (17.83240N, 76.00430E) on 30 December 2020 at 0517 h. This is the first record of Spotted Deer in the grassland ecosystem of Solapur region in Maharashtra.


Keywords: Camera trap, Chital, Gangewadi region, GIB sanctuary, grassland ecosystem, semi-arid landscape, Solapur region, ungulates.





The Chital Axis axis was first described by the German naturalist Johann Christian Polycarp Erxleben in 1777. The species is crepuscular, inhabiting a variety of habitats mostly on the periphery of dense forests (Nowak 1991). It is a medium-sized herbivore, with males attaining a height of 80–100 cm at the shoulder and a length of 119–185 cm; females are slightly smaller, 67–87 cm in height and 114–147 cm in length with no antlers (Long 2003). Adults have a reddish-brown coat with white spots (Schaller 1967). The antlers, three-pronged, are nearly 1 m long. The usual life span of Chital in the wild is 10–15 years (Walker et al. 1964) and in captivity up to 20 years (Crandall 1964).

The Chital ranges over 8–30°N in India and through Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (Anderson 1999; Grubb 2005). The western limit of its range is eastern Rajasthan and Gujarat whereas the northern limit is along the foothills of the Himalaya and from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand through to Nepal, northern West Bengal and Sikkim and then to western Assam and the forested valleys of Bhutan, which are below 1,100 m (Duckworth et al. 2015). The eastern limit of its range is through western Assam (Sankar & Acharya 2004) to the Sunderbans of West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh (Duckworth et al. 2015) and Sri Lanka is the southern limit (Schaller 1967). Chital occurs sporadically in the forested areas throughout the rest of the Indian peninsula (Sankar & Acharya 2004). Within Bangladesh, it currently exists only in the Sundarbans and some ecoparks situated around the Bay of Bengal, as it became extinct in the central and northeastern parts of the country (Duckworth et al. 2015). Introduced populations also occur within Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Chital is listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN RedList of Threatened Species because they possess a very wide range. The population is declining outside protected areas. Although they are widely distributed across India, there are no record of Chital from the Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary, Maharashtra.


Study Area

The study area lies in the Deccan landscape which is a large plateau in western and southern India. The landscape is semi-arid region of India and receives very less rainfall which makes it suitable for GIB. The summer season, lasting from mid-February to mid-June (Habib 2007), is very dry and extremely hot, with temperatures regularly exceeding 48°C. The Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary, established in 1979, is a wildlife sanctuary for the Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps at Solapur Maharashtra, India. The sanctuary is spread over seven talukas: Mohol, Mhada, northern Solapur, Karmala, Nevasa, Karjat, and Shrigonda. The original spread of the GIB Sanctuary was 8,469 km2, which has been reduced to 1,222.61 km2, including reserved forest, Gairan lands, and private lands (including grasslands) in 2011. This vast grassland is home for many resident wildlife species and a variety of migratory species, along with the GIB. The major floral species are Azadirachta indica, Acacia nilotica, Ziziphus spp., Glericidia sepium, Hardwickia binata, & Albizzia lebbeck and the prominent grasses are Aristida funiculate, Aristida stocksii, Chrysopogon fulvus, Heteropogon contortus, Lodhopogon tridentatus, & Melanocenchris jacquemontii (Habib 2007). Also, the sanctuary has a good population of Blackbuck, Indian Wolf, Indian Fox, Golden Jackal, and Jungle Cat. There has been no previous record of the Spotted Deer from any part of the sanctuary.


Materials and Methods

During the field work exercise for radio collaring of Indian Grey Wolves to monitor movement in the human-dominated landscape of Maharashtra, camera traps have been placed in the Gangewadi area of the GIB sanctuary. The trails and junctions of the area were targeted and Cuddeback Ambush/C1 camera traps ( were placed. Cameras were tied up on tree trunks at the height of 25–35 cm from the ground at the animal trails. The camera delay was set at multi-shot mode with a delay of 5 seconds and were active for 24 hours.



Over the survey period, species photo-captured included the Indian Grey Wolf, Indian Fox, Jungle Cat, Black Buck, Wild Boar, porcupine, and Black-Naped Hare. A male Spotted Deer was captured by a single camera trap (17.83240˚N, 76.00439˚E) on 30 December 2020 at 0517 h (Image 1). This is the first record of Spotted Deer in the grassland ecosystem of Solapur region of Maharashtra (Image 1).



The Spotted Deer is endemic to southern Asia (Schaller 1967) and found in dry deciduous, moist deciduous, thorn forest, and mangroves. As per the IUCN RedList, the distribution data show that Spotted Deer are present in the entire state of Maharashtra. They are found almost exclusively in dry and mixed deciduous forest habitat intermixed with grasslands. They are most commonly associated with a mixture of forest and more open grass-shrub, but they occupy a wide range of habitats throughout their native range, often avoiding rugged terrain (Anderson 1999). It is one of the most common prey species for carnivores in the forest ecosystem. Carnivores that may prey upon Chital in the GIB Sanctuary include Indian Wolf Canis lupus pallipes. The sanctuary is dominated by a matrix of grasslands, barren lands and agricultural land, with small patches of Azadirachta sp. and Gliricidia sp. plantation. The sanctuary has long record of research activities on various flora and fauna (Kumar 1988; Rahmani 1988; Habib 2007; Habib & Kumar 2007; Kumar & Rahmani 2008; Vanak & Gompper 2010; Janakiraman & Jalal 2015; Varghese et al. 2016; Khan et al. 2019) but there is no earlier record of the Spotted Deer. The present work is the first record of Spotted Deer from this region. In the surrounding of the sanctuary various other wildlife sanctuaries are present. The closest sanctuary which has Spotted Deer population is Nayangaon Mayur Wildlife Sanctuary (WS) (Show as symbol and name in legend in bottom map of Figure 1) which is about 124 km away from the photo-captured point. The other close by sanctuaries are Sagareshwar WS (190 km), Lonar WS (240 km), Nandur WS (305 km), and SGNP (356 km), where Spotted Deer population is present (Figure 1). There have been a few earlier records of Spotted Deer from Pune district (250 km away from Nannaj Bustard Sanctuary). In 2016, a dead male Spotted Deer was found at dumping site in Warje, Pune (The Golden Sparrow 2016) and in 2017 a male was killed by dogs in Khadakwasla area of Pune (Phadnis 2017). These two areas are close to each other and surrounded by forested area. Each year Pune division of the state forest department conducts waterhole census in four wildlife sanctuaries: Nannaj Bustard Sanctuary (10 km; part of GIB Sanctuary as Gangewadi area), Bhimashankar  (292 km), Rehekhuri (145 km) and Mayureshwar (178 km). In the census during year 2021 no Spotted Deer was recorded from the above given wildlife sanctuaries, and the species was never recorded from Solapur district. This is the first wild record of Spotted Deer here. The other ungulates recorded from the Solapur region, including the GIB Sanctuary are Black Buck Antilope cervicapra, Chinkara Gazella bennettii,  and Wild Boar Sus scrofa.

Systematic studies are necessary to assess whether populations of A. axis have started colonising the area or are using the area as a corridor. This data may support actions for conservation of regional biodiversity.



For figure & image - - click here





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