Sambar
 
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Sambar Deer
Sambar Deer (Cervus unicolor) - photograph by David Behrens

Sambar (Cervus unicolor) is the largest Indian deer and carries the grandest horns. Height at shoulder can be up to 150 cm. A full grown stag weighs between 230 - 325 kg. The male members of this species have antlers that can grow up to a length of 1 m. The coat is coarse and shaggy, males have a mane about the neck and throat. The general color is brown with grayish tinge. Females are lighter in tone. Older stags become very dark, almost black.

Sambar is found in the wooded areas of India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka. It is the most common deer species in the world, covering many countries in Asia. It is also one of the larger members of the deer family. Their population is large and spread to almost every corner of India. In Haryana, Sambar deer is found in the Kalesar forest, district Yamunanagar.

Habits: Sambar prefers staying in the forested hill-sides preferably near cultivation. They are almost nocturnal, feeding mainly at night and retiring by daybreak. Their diet is mainly grass, leaves, various kinds of wild fruit. These animals have a life expectancy ranging between 16 - 20 years.

Breeding: Their breeding period is mainly during the months of November and December. The gestation period is 6 months. The males by this time have shed their antlers. A new pair start growing almost immediately. It is during this period of their life cycles when they are seen less frequently. The males mostly lead solitary lives and are rarely seen associating with each other, except on some occasions during the rutting season.

They are the favorite prey species of the tiger. The Sambar has extremely sharp senses of hearing and smell. Its alarm call is taken very seriously, unlike that of the spotted or barking deer, by anyone interested in knowing the whereabouts of a predator. A repeated call is accepted as a definite indicator.
 

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