The Chital or Cheetal (Axis axis), also known as chital deer, spotted deer or axis deer is a deer which commonly inhabits wooded regions of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and in small numbers in Pakistan. It is the most common deer species in Indian forests. It has been introduced to Queensland, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Point Reyes National Seashore near San Francisco, California, Texas and Florida as well as Hawaii in the United States and to the Veliki Brijun Island in the Brijuni Archipelago of the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia.
The chital's coat is reddish fawn, marked with white spots, and its underparts are white. Its antlers, which it sheds annually, are usually three-pronged and curve in a lyre shape and may extend to 75 cm (2.5 ft). It stands about 90 cm (3 ft) tall at the shoulder and masses about 85 kg (187 lb). Its lifespan is around 20–30 years.
The spotted deer is found in large numbers in dense deciduous or semi-evergreen jungles and open grasslands. The highest numbers of Chital are found in the jungles of India where they feed upon tall grass and shrubs. Chital has been also spotted in Phibsoo wildlife Sanctuary in Bhutan which is the only remaining natural Sal (Shorea robusta) forests in the country. They do not occur at higher elevation forests where they are usually replaced by other species such as the Sambar deer. They also prefer heavy forest cover for shade and are intolerant of direct sunlight.
Chital are primarily grazers and feed on short, sprouting grasses. However they will also browse as well as eat forbs, fruit and branches of trees, especially when they are thrown down by monkeys. Stags, more than hinds, will stand on their hind legs on feed on tree foliage. Chital also eat their shed antlers as a source of nutrients and will use mineral licks. Chital prefer to be near water and will drink mornings and evenings in hot weather. Predators of the chital include tigers, leopards, dholes and mugger crocodiles. Red foxes also sometimes prey on chital fawns. Hinds and fawns are more likely to be victims of predation than adult stags and dholes are more successful in catching stags than tigers and leopards.
An interesting relationship has been observed between herds of axis deer and troops of the Northern Plains Gray Langur (Presbytis entellus), a widespread leaf-eating monkey taxon of South Asia. Axis deer apparently benefit from the langurs' good eyesight and ability to post a lookout in a treetop, helping to raise the alarm when a predator approaches. For the langurs' part, the axis deer's superior sense of smell would seem to assist in early predator warning, and it is common to see langurs foraging on the ground in the presence of axis deer. The axis deer also benefit from fruits dropped by the langurs from trees such as Terminalia bellerica and Phyllanthus emblica. Alarm calls of either species can be indicative of the presence of a predator such as a tiger.
The Axis Deer can be found in the Asian hoofstock collection at the Montgomery Zoo.
The Banteng (Bos javanicus), also known as Tembadau, is a species of wild cattle found in Southeast Asia. Banteng have been domesticated in several places in Southeast Asia, and there are around 1.5 million domestic banteng, which are called Bali cattle. These animals are used as working animals, and for their meat. Bali cattle have also been introduced to Northern Australia, where they have established stable feral populations.
The banteng is similar in size to domestic cattle, being 1.55 to 1.65 m (61 to 65 in) tall at the shoulder, and weighing 600 to 800 kg (1,300 to 1,800 lb). It exhibits sexual dimorphism, allowing the sexes to be readily distinguished by color and size. In mature males, the short-haired coat is blue-black or dark chestnut in color, while in females and young it is chestnut, with a dark dorsal stripe. Both males and females have white stockings on their lower legs, a white rump, a white muzzle, and white spots above the eyes. The build is similar to that of domestic cattle, but with a rather slender neck and small head, and a ridge on the back above the shoulders. The horns of females are short and tightly curved, pointing inward at the tips, and those of males arc upwards, growing 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) long, and being connected by a horn-like bald patch on the forehead.
Banteng live in sparse forest where they feed on grasses, bamboo, fruit, leaves and young branches. The banteng is generally active both night and day, but in places where humans are common they adopt a nocturnal schedule. Banteng tend to gather in herds of two to thirty members.
The Banteng can be found in the Asian hoofstock collection at the Montgomery Zoo.
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
Range: Bengal tigers live in tropical jungles, brush, marshland, and tall grasslands in fragmented areas of Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Burma.
Description: The Bengal tiger is the largest member of the cat family. It’s size, coat color, and markings vary with each subspecies. The Bengal Tiger is the most common of all the subspecies; however, is considered an endangered species.
Why are some Bengal tigers white? Bengal tigers typically are orange in color; however, white tigers are reported in the wild from time to time in the Indian states of Assam, West Bengal and Bihar. Such a tiger has the black stripes typical of the Bengal tiger, but carries a white or near-white coat.
Diet: Bengal tigers mainly hunt at night. Tigers are carnivores (meat eaters) concentrating on mostly on deer, wild pigs, birds, reptiles, and fish.
Lifespan: Healthy Bengal tigers live 8-10 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 16 years old.
The Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is also called Greater One-horned Rhinoceros and Asian One-horned Rhinoceros and belongs to the Rhinocerotidae family. Listed as a vulnerable species, the large mammal is primarily found in parts of north-eastern India and in protected areas in the Terai of Nepal, where populations are confined to the riverine grasslands in the foothills of the Himalayas. Weighing between 2260 kg and 3000 kg, it is the fourth largest land animal and has a single horn, which measures 20 cm to 57 cm in length.
These Rhinoceros once ranged throughout the entire stretch of the Indo-Gangetic Plain but excessive hunting reduced their natural habitat drastically. Today, about 3,000 Rhinos live in the wild, 2,000 of which are found in India's Assam alone.
These Rhinoceros can run at speeds of up to 55 km/h (34 mph) for short periods of time and is also an excellent swimmer. It has excellent senses of hearing and smell but relatively poor eyesight.
These rhinos live in tall grasslands and riverine forests but due to habitat loss they have been forced into more cultivated land. They are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers and calves and breeding pairs, although they sometimes congregate at bathing areas. They have home ranges, the home ranges of males being usually 2-8 square kilometers in size, and overlapping each other. Dominant males tolerate males passing through their territory except when they are in mating season, when dangerous fights break out. They are active at night and early morning. They spend the middle of the day wallowing in lakes, rivers, ponds, and puddles to cool down. They are extremely good swimmers. Over 10 distinct vocalizations have been recorded.
Nepali and Indian rhinos have few natural enemies, except for tigers. Tigers sometimes kill unguarded calves, but adult rhinos are less vulnerable due to their size. Humans are the only other animal threat, hunting the rhinoceros primarily for sport or for the use of its horn. Mynahs and egrets both eat invertebrates from the rhino's skin and around its feet. Tabanus flies, a type of horse-fly are known to bite rhinos. The rhinos are also vulnerable to diseases spread by parasites such as leeches, ticks and nematodes. Anthrax and the blood-disease septicemia are known to occur.
The Greater Indian Rhino can be seen in the Asian realm at the Montgomery Zoo.
The Reeves' Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) is a muntjac species found widely in southeastern China (Gansu to Yunnan) and in Taiwan. They have also been introduced in the Netherlands, south England, the Midlands, east Wales and more recently in Ireland. It feeds on herbs, blossoms, grasses and nuts, and was also reported to eat trees. It takes its name from John Reeves, who was appointed Assistant Inspector of Tea for the British East India Company in 1812.
This muntjac grows to 0.95 m (37 inches) in length, and weighs between 10 and 18 kg (22-40 pounds) when fully grown. The male has short antlers, usually four inches or less, and uses them to push enemies off balance so he can wound them with his upper two inch canine teeth. The Taiwanse subspecies (M. r. micrurus), commonly known as the Formosan Reeves' Muntjac, is relatively dark compared to the other subspecies.
The Reeves' Muntjac is also called the barking deer, known for its distinctive bark, though this name is also used for the other species of muntjacs.
An unspecified species of muntjac was introduced to the grounds of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire in the nineteenth century by the then Duke of Bedford. While a small number are reported as escaping, it is extremely unlikely that they are the source of the current UK population. Larger numbers of muntjac escaped from Whipsnade Zoo, and they are the more likely ancestors, in addition to other releases.
Since the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it has been illegal to release the species except where already established. Reeves' Muntjac colonies exist throughout England south of Derbyshire, and the population continues to grow. Small groupings of muntjacs have been seen in large urban parks in the Islington, Highgate, East Ham, Finchley and Greenwich areas of London, cemeteries, parks (seen in Green Park nr M4), and schools (Crosfields School) in the Reading area, the Headington Hill area outside of Oxford, Letchworth in Hertfordshire, Epping Forest in Essex, and in Warwickshire and Birmingham.
Muntjac deer can be something of a traffic hazard, as they do not readily move out of the way of cars.
The Reeve’s Muntjac can be found on display in the Asian realm at the Montgomery Zoo.