What makes the Indian Eld’s deer(Rucervus eldii eldii) one-of-a-kind? It is not just the fact that it is only found in one particular region in Manipur,India, but also that this habitat is unique natural showcase in every way. One of the rarest deers on Earth, the Eld’s deer or more commonly known Sangai deers live on floating land masses on the Keibul Lamjao National Park, world’s only floating reserve. And a recent survey notes much to the relief of conservationists that the deer population has increased in the last ten years.
The latest census carried out on March 13 this year put the Sangai population at 204. Of these, 90 were stags or males, 86 hinds or females and 28 fawns. In 2003 the deer population in the same habitat was noted as 180.
Keibul Lamjao National Park is a 40 square km area which is a part of the 246 sq km Loktak Lake. It is about 50 km away from Imphal, in Bishnupur district of the state. What makes this area worth a visit, are the land masses with lush green grass that seemed to be floating on the lake. The Sangai deer love to feed on the tender grass and have adapted the skill to balance themselves on these floating forests. Sometimes because of their fine balancing act, they are also called the dancing deers of Manipur.
Debendra Singh the state environment minister however is concerned about the health of the deers. The officials of the forest department who surveyed the area found many the size of the deer has decreased because of inbreeding and they are more prone to diseases.
In an effort to provide them with more food, the department is planning to plant more vegetation in and around the area.
The minister also added that the increasing number is a good sign and one of the reasons for the population rise can be the efforts made to curb poaching, by involving locals living around the lake. The forest department asked locals to volunteer and keep an eye on poachers who found it easy to target the animals moving on the open floating masses without any hiding grounds.
For tourists, the department has constructed three watch towers around the lake.
About Sangai Deers
- The sangai is the state animal of Manipur.
- It is also known as the Eld’s deer or the bow antlered deer or thamin.
- Apart from India, the animal is also found in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, and Viet Nam.
- The population has declined by more than 50% over the last 15 years
- In India, the animal was thought to be extinct until it was re-discovered in 1953.
- Current status of the species is – Endangered in the wild.
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Image via kanglaonline.com