Observations on Sambar Rusa unicolor (Cetartiodactyla: Cervidae) stags during hard and velvet stages of antler cycle in captivity

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V.V. Savanth
P.C. Saseendran
K.S. Anil
V. Ramnath
J. Davis
A. Prasad

Abstract

This research was carried out at the State Museum and Zoo, Thrissur, Kerala, India from June to October, 2009. The objective was to observe and record the physical and behavioural changes in Sambar Deer Rusa unicolor stags linked to their territorial display during various stages of the breeding cycle. In total, there were 70 Sambar in the enclosure, at the commencement of the study, of which 22 were males including 16 adult stags. Six stags were selected for the study. Observations were made by focal animal sampling technique. An ethogram was devised and behavioural patterns were indicated on it. The behavioural score derived from the ethogram was significantly higher in stags in their hard antler stage when compared to the stags in the velvet stage. The stags in the hard antler stage were more massive, had bigger antlers, darker coat colour, thicker neck, larger scrotum and maintained a larger ‘harem’ in comparison to the velvet stage stags which preferred a rather subdued life. The most dominant stags in the hard antler stage had up to 17 female members in his territory. As the stags in velvet entered the rut season, the dominant stag had up to 19 females in his territory. The study is expected to be useful to evolve strategies to identify and reduce a few males not contributing in breeding in any particular enclosure and thus curtail expenses in management of cervids in captivity.

Article Details

How to Cite
[1]
Savanth, V., Saseendran, P., Anil, K., Ramnath, V., Davis, J. and Prasad, A. 2011. Observations on Sambar Rusa unicolor (Cetartiodactyla: Cervidae) stags during hard and velvet stages of antler cycle in captivity. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 3, 10 (Oct. 2011), 2128–2135. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2672.2128-35.
Section
Communications
Author Biographies

V.V. Savanth

V.V. Savanth is pursuing his PhD on non human primate reproduction.

P.C. Saseendran

P.C. Saseendran working on hormonal population control in non human primates, healthcare and management of captive elephants and human-elephant conflict mitigation.

K.S. Anil

K.S. Anil working on hormonal population control in non human primates, healthcare and management of captive elephants and human-elephant conflict mitigation.

V. Ramnath

V. Ramnath is undertaking research on stress physiology and antioxidants, cancer biochemistry, molecular biology, tumour immunology, radio biology and animal cell culture technology.

J. Davis

Justin Davis is delving to find managemental interventions to improve dairy farming.

A. Prasad

A. Prasad is working to explore climatological adaptation in mammals