Of Slow The Threatened Samber of Bangladesh
Kh Ismat Hasan Jahid
The male is called the Stag, ornamented with
extra fur and a remarkably noticeable pair of antennae over
the forehead for which it is called the antelope of Bangladesh.
It has already lost six of its other neighbours of the order
Artiodactyla, some in remote and some in recent past. IUCN (International
Union Conservation of Nature and Natural resources) Bangladesh
identified those six extinct large bodied herbivores and they
are the Gaur (Bos Gaurus), the Benteg (Bos benteng), the Wild
Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis), the Nilgai or Blue bull (Boselephus
tragocamelis), the Swamp Deer (Cervus duvauceli) and finally
the Hog Deer (Axis porcinus).
Sambar is still surviving with its three other members of the
order Artiodactyla like the Barking Deer or Maya Horin (Muntiacus
muntjac), the Mainland Serow or Ban Chagol (Capricornis sumatraensis)
and the Spotted Deer or Chitra Horin. Out of these four surviving
Artiodactyla, except the Spotted Deer, other threes are in the
Red List of IUCN and the Barking Deer is endangered whereas
the Sambar and the Bon Chagol belong to the category Critically
The Sambar, which once upon a time played havoc
with the early growing croplands and thus a headache to the
farmers, is now in the list of threatened animals. But their
actual status is still a question, as the dwellers of those
areas cannot say when they last saw a Sambar in the areas where
these antelopes used to be seen usually. IUCN says an animal
is extinct at least locally, when it is not seen in its natural
habitat for at least 50 years.
The Sambar (Cervus unicolor) belongs to the
order Artiodactyla and family cervidae has a body colour of
uniformly dark grey without any spot. The males are called the
stags and only the stags contain antlers; each with three tines.
Hairs are rough and shaggy with a body length of 1.7-2.7 metres.
Its weight is 150-315 kg.
It is distributed in the forests of Chittagong
Hill Tracts. Its extra territorial distribution is India, Sri
Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It is
a typical forest deer and prefers hillsides near cultivation.
Solitary in non-breeding season and active by night it feeds
on grass leaves wild fruits and crops beside its territory.
The Samber moves remarkably silently through dense forests and
are very good swimmers. The gestation period is about eight
months and after that one or rarely two fawns are born.
The unusual and amazing character of the samber
is that they live in groups in breeding season and the male
contains harems. IUCN says that the males actually acquire harems.
A harem is always surrounded by a good numbers of females that
take care of the stag in every possible aspect and in return
of this the stag ensures the protection of the female group.
But acquiring harems is not an easy job. It requires severe
physical combat with other. In some cases one male acquires
the harems with the death of another. Though it looks better
to live with harems, in reality living in a harem is rather
disadvantageous for long-term survival, as it requires physical
combat between stags. The other problem is, only one stag is
allowed in a group and after the birth of a new male, it becomes
a huge problem to allow the new born in the same group after
its maturity. Sometimes the old one is replaced by the new through
physical combat and the old one dies which was supposed to live
some years more. Thus either the old one dies or the new male
gets lonely failing the combat and if there is no available
group, the evicted one dies losing its potentiality as it does
not get its harems.
IUCN Bangladesh identified the causes of dwindling
stags population. They identified hunting and habitat loss as
two major factors. And there is this habit of killing each other
in group. IUCN is taking the measure to protect it by captive
breeding followed by the return to nature. Under the Wildlife
Preservation Amendment Act 1974, the government has declared
11 forested areas as sanctuaries where the wild animals are
protected from hunters or any other intruders. Out of those
11 sanctuaries, 5 of them are of evergreen type and hence could
be a sound habitat for the return of the Sambar.
the Pubakhali wildlife sanctuary, established in 1962 and declared
as such in 1983 by the Government can be the best habitat as
these Sambars were seen in this area many years ago in good
numbers. Dhaka National Zoo has some Sambars that can be used
as a breeding stock. The colony consists of male, female and
the pleasant news is, they breed here in the zoo and the thriving
rate is consistent.