The Fascinating Chital Deer of Nepal
The Chital Deer is also commonly referred to as the spotted deer, Axis Deer or the Asiatic deer. Unlike most of the deer who reside in Nepal, the Chital is fairly tolerant of foreign noises or the approach of humans and vehicles. This in turn makes them an interesting species to photograph as well as observe at quite close quarters.
Aside from Nepal, the Chital deer can be commonly found in the lower wooded regions belonging to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. Herds are typically made up of a mixed group with one or two stags and the rest of the herd is made up of females and young, ranging from ten to fifty animals. The diet of the Chital deer is predominantly made up of wild grasses and the abundance of vegetation.
The Chital deer can be recognized by its yellowish to red-brown coat with distinctive white spots haphazardly dotted along the back, while the under belly the fur is snow white. The breeding season is an ongoing and drawn out process throughout the year, thus affecting the antler cycles of the male deer which occur at different times instead of in synchrony, which is the normal case with deer herds. In the case of the Chital deer the predominant males can be recognized by their hard antlers usually in a lyre shape, curved and extending up to 75cm in length. The subordinate males usually have antlers covered in velvet fur while the immature young males are normally without. Because of this type of ranking, size as well as other factors do not come into play as would normally be the case.
Nature is often rife with symbiotic relationships. In the case of the Chital herds, a relationship with the Grey Langur troops as become quite evident. These leaf-eating monkeys have excellent eyesight with the advantage of lookout points high up in the trees. The benefit – the Chital are warned in advance of approaching predators when the Langur raise the alarm. At the same time the, Langur’s take advantage of the Chitals keen sense of smell giving early detecting to predators on the hunt, thus its not uncommon to see Langurs foraging amidst the grazing herds.