The deer of Sri Lanka – Mouse deer (Trangulus meminna) – Sambaur (Cervus unicolor)

The deer of Sri Lanka – Mouse deer (Trangulus meminna) - Sambhur (Cervus unicolor)One of the alternative names for the Mouse deer is known as chevrotain and it is commonly known as meeminna by Sinhalese language. This Sinhalese name has contributed for its scientific nomenclature. The mouse deer is a small animal which grows maximum thirty centimeters in height. Larger animal of this genus is found in several South-East Asian countries, but still they are comparatively smaller than the average deer. This is a species of deer without antler; greatly elongated caning teeth are substituting the antler. Caning teeth are used for defense and fighting and they are called ‘tusks’. Tusks of males are larger in size than the tusks of females, and protrude below the upper lip. Since the smaller size of its body cause them to be killed often by village dogs and house cats.

Mouse deer is to be found in low down of the food chain and their best defense is concealment. Mouse deer has pattern of beige stripes on his coats. They have spots in the areas of darker buff background, which helps them to camouflage. Mouse deer is an animal seen very rarely in the jungle owing to its secretive living style. They remain hidden in the jungle for most of the time. Mouse deer is an animal with wide distribution in the island covering all the major climate zones (dry zone and wet zone). Sometimes they can be seen in the suburbs such as Colombo. But owing to their secretive habits prevent them being noticed.

Sambar (Cervus unicolor)

Larger body size of Sambar makes them the third largest mammal in the island after Elephant and buffalo. Several sub-species of Sambar are occurred in throughout the Asian range, from India to Philippines. The body size of Sambar largely varied across the different countries.  Sri Lankan Samba is being considered being comparatively larger than other specimens. Today the distribution of Sambar is limited to some parts of the country, even though once they had a wide distribution in the island.

Sambar are restricted to wet zone mountain forests today and it is difficult to see them outside the dry zone protected areas. Illegal hunting and habitat loose being considered the main challenge for the survival of sambar. Only the stags carry antlers, which grows in the second year of life and the antler is renewed every year. Horton plains in the central province considered being one of the best places to witness this animal. Wilpattu, Yala, Kumana and Knuckles range also considered to have considerable number of Sambar. Only natural enemy of Sambar is the leopard, and they have become an important prey for leopards especially in the mountainous areas.

White Sambar in knuckles mountain range

The white sambar deer is an animal which had been spotted very rarely in the world. This is a different species of deer and is very rarely seen than its counterpart normal brown sambar (Rusa unicolor). The white sambar was spotted in knuckles forest range in Sri Lanka, knuckles is a bio-diversity hot spot as well as one of the World heritage sites in Sri Lanka. It is reported that the white sambar deer was seen frequently in Hapugaskumbura, Ududumbara area in the eastern part of Knuckles range.

Dr. R. L. Spittel is a well known author, naturalist and physician, who lived in Sri Lanka as a Medical Officer in early 1990′s, had written about the white sambar in one of his books. Since Spittel’s remarks of the white sambar, there were no information of spotting the White sambar in Knuckles forest range till the recent discovery.

Residents of the eastern slope of the Knuckles range had seen the white sambar accompany with the normal Brown colored sambar. Color of the White sambar is light color as the name suggests and it does not carry any chest nut marks, which develops gradually after the birth.

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I am Sanjeewa Padmal Punchihewa, a freelance software engineer, freelance National Tourist Guide Lecturer and part time blogger from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Please feel free to write me on the following email addresses for any further information on this topic. If you wish to visit this place, please write us, I am glad to help you.,
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