Visayan spotted deer

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Visayan spotted deer [1]
Visayan Spotted Deer (Rusa alfredi).jpg
At the Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae
Subfamily: Cervinae
Genus: Rusa
Species:
R. alfredi
Binomial name
Rusa alfredi
(Sclater, 1870)
Synonyms

Cervus alfrediSclater, 1870

The Visayan spotted deer (Rusa alfredi), also known as the "Visayan deer", the "Philippine spotted deer" [3] or "Prince Alfred's deer", is a nocturnal and endangered species of deer located primarily in the rainforests of the Visayan islands of Panay and Negros though it once roamed other islands such as Cebu, Guimaras, Leyte, Masbate, and Samar. It is one of three endemic deer species in the Philippines, although it was not recognized as a separate species until 1983. An estimated 2,500 mature individuals survived worldwide as of 1996, according to the IUCN, although it is uncertain of how many of them still survive in the wild. The diet of the deer, which consists of a variety of different types of grasses, leaves, and buds within the forest, is the primary indicator of its habitat. Since 1991 the range of the species has severely decreased and is now almost co-extensive with that of the Visayan warty pig.

Contents

In April 2009 an expedition team of British and Filipino mountaineers and scientists discovered evidence of two separate groups of deer in the North Negros Natural Park. These signs (scat and feeding sites) are believed to be the first scientific evidence of the deer's activity for over 25 years. It is estimated that an estimated 300 animals survive on the island of Negros. Conservation efforts are currently underway with the intention of preserving the remaining population of the species but are poorly funded and supported.

In 2012, the Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition camera trapped the centre of the North Negros Natural Park and gained the first photos take in the wild of the species.

Description

Female specimen in captivity Cervus alfredi.jpg
Female specimen in captivity
Young male Cervus alfredi5.jpg
Young male

The deer is small and short-legged yet it is the largest endemic species of deer among the Visayas. Adults range from 125 to 130 cm (49 to 51 in) long from the head to the base of the tail, 70 to 80 cm (28 to 31 in) in shoulder height and 25 to 80 kg (55 to 176 lb) in weight. This species is easily distinguished from other species of deer in the Philippines by the distinctive "A" pattern of beige spots which dot its deep brown back and sides. Other distinctive features include cream underparts and white fur on the chin and lower lip. The animal's head and neck are brown, but lighter than the body, and the eyes are ringed with paler fur. Males are larger than females and have short, thick, bumpy antlers. [4]

Behavior and ecology

Habitat

The species' range once covered the shoreline up to at least 2,000 m above sea level. Its habitat is in dense cogon grassland, and primary and secondary forest. Most of its habitat consists of areas where its diet of young shoots of cogon grass and young low-growing leaves and buds are plentiful. Besides areas that are dense in vegetation, it could also thrive in places it could graze. They may also visit burnt-out forest clearings for the floral ash. Due to the now restricted range of the deer, it is impossible to ascertain the preferred habitat of the species. [2]

Breeding

The deer breed from November to December, although mating could begin earlier. Males have a roaring call to attract females. Reports mostly mention a single calf with a mated pair, although conclusive evidence on the number of young is not available because of the rarity of sightings. Calves are born after a gestation period of around 240 days. Weaning takes place at six months and the calves are mature from 12 months. [4]

Conservation

This species is fully protected under Philippine law. Hunting and forest clearances as a result of logging activities and agricultural conversion are thought to be the causes of a devastating drop in the numbers of the deer (a 1991 survey found that the deer was present in only 5% of its former range). Despite this, the deer still exist in the more remote areas, specifically in the protected habitats of Mt. Canlaon National Park, North Negros Forest Reserve, Southern Candoni, and West Panay Mountains (a proposed National Park). In 1990, the Philippine Spotted Deer Conservation Program was set up to facilitate the conservation of the species. Some of the deer have been held in captivity in Mari-it Conservation Centre in Panay, two breeding centers in Negros, and in a number of European zoos. [4]

Since 1987, Silliman University Mammal Conservation Program, through the Center for Tropical Studies (CENTROP), has been engaged in the deer's captive breeding. The success of the program has led some of the captive-bred to be released in the interior forests of southern Negros, particularly in the interior of Basay, Negros Oriental. [5]

Threats

Deforestation has greatly contributed in the decline of the deer. Hunting, both by locals and sport hunters has also made an impact; subsistence hunting, sales of venison to local markets and speciality restaurants, and live trapping for the pet trade have all contributed to the species' dwindling numbers. Isolation and reduction of population is likely to have led to some herds becoming moribund. While cross-breeding with R. mariannus has been observed in captivity, the lack of a common range means this is unlikely to be a problem in the wild. [2]

Due to the severe pressures faced by the deer, the IUCN has twice listed it as an endangered species: firstly in 1994 (when it was de-listed within the year) and again in 1996 (which listing has continued until the present). The limited numbers of the animal in the wild (at least 300, down from almost 1,600) has led to the belief that prospects for its survival are bleak. [2]

Rediscovery

On April 2009, footprints and animal droppings belonging to the creature were found in the North Negros Natural Park by a scientific team of six British, five Filipinos, and one Irishman, who were studying the biodiversity of the park. The team, who were from Negros Interior Biodiversity Expedition, estimate that less 300 members of the species survive. The team discovered a set of footprints beside a river three days into the expedition. The distance between these footprints and a half-eaten set of young palm trees, which were found three days later, indicated that two groups of deer might be present in the nature preserve. Subsequently, the team found small piles of 20 to 30 pellets with a trail of deer footprints leading away. Because "other species such as the Visayan warty pigs and civet cats have distinctly different scat", the team were confident that the pellets belonged to the deer. This was the first evidence of a live wild population of the deer for more than ten years. The team was thrilled by their success, although one of the expedition leaders, Craig Turner, admitted "this discovery confirms [the deer] are surviving, but doesn't tell us they are thriving". Besides the deer, other species discovered were some unusual plants, including ground orchids and pitcher plants, and many bird and frog species. Specimens were sent to the cities of Bacolod and Dumaguete for further analysis. [6] [7] [8]

The animal was later featured in a front-page story in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 24 May 2009 in the story "The World's Rarest Deer Still Roam Negros". In the story, the British Ambassador declared the find "an exciting discovery". The expedition team is reportedly set to present their findings to the Royal Geographical Society. [5] Researchers involved in the expedition commented that "more protection" of the deer and similar endangered species in the park [is needed] "in order to assure their survival". They also said in the statement that "Philippine forests still harbor many rare and unique species, found nowhere else in the world". [9] The expedition was sponsored by several environmental institutions and foundations, which are interested in promoting and protecting the biodiversity, present within the United Kingdom as well as in the Visayas in the Philippines, such as the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Inc., Silliman University, Coral Cay Conservation, and the Zoological Society of London. In 2013, there were reports of sightings in the Southern Candoni region, indicating Silliman's releases in Basay have successfully expanded north.

See also

Related Research Articles

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The Visayas, or the Visayan Islands, are one of the three principal geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao. Located in the central part of the archipelago, it consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea, although the Visayas are also considered the northeast extremity of the entire Sulu Sea. Its inhabitants are predominantly the Visayan peoples.

Waldens hornbill Species of bird

Walden's hornbill locally called dulungan, also known as the Visayan wrinkled hornbill, rufous-headed hornbill or writhed-billed hornbill, is a critically endangered species of hornbill living in the rainforests on the islands of Negros and Panay in the Philippines. It is closely related to the writhed hornbill, but can be recognized by the yellow throat and ocular skin in the male, and the blue throat and ocular skin in the female. Its binomial name commemorates the Scottish ornithologist Viscount Walden.

Palawan (island)

Palawan is the largest island of the province of Palawan in the Philippines and fifth-largest by area and tenth-most populous island of the country, with a total population of 994,101 as of 2020 census. The north west coast of the island is along the South China Sea, while the south east coast forms part of the northern limit of the Sulu Sea. Much of the island remains traditional and is considered by some as under-developed. Abundant wildlife, jungle mountains, and some white sandy beaches attract many tourists, as well as international companies looking for development opportunities.

Negros bleeding-heart pigeon Species of bird

The Negros bleeding-heart pigeon is endemic to the Philippines where it is found on the islands of Negros and Panay. It is critically endangered; continuing rates of forest loss on the two islands where it occurs suggest that it will continue to decline. The population is estimated to be just 50 - 249 mature individuals. The species has an extremely small, severely fragmented population. The bird is listed as an EDGE species under the analysis of the Zoological Society of London.

Visayan warty pig Species of mammal

The Visayan warty pig is a critically endangered species in the pig genus (Sus). It is endemic to six of the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines. It is known by many names in the region with most translating into 'wild pig': baboy ihalas, baboy talonon ,baboy sulopbaboy ramo.

Cervinae Subfamily of deer

The Cervinae or the Old World deer, are a subfamily of deer. Alternatively, they are known as the plesiometacarpal deer, due to their ankle structure being different from the telemetacarpal deer of the Capreolinae.

Philippine deer Species of deer

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The Calamian deer, also known as Calamian hog deer, is an endangered species of deer found only in the Calamian Islands of Palawan province in the Philippines. It is one of three species of deer native to the Philippines, the other being the Philippine sambar, and Visayan spotted deer.

Black-belted flowerpecker Species of bird

The black-belted flowerpecker or visayan flowerpecker, is a species of bird in the family Dicaeidae. It is endemic to the Philippines where it is restricted to Panay, Negros and Guimaras islands. It was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the more widespread red-keeled flowerpecker. Sometimes the name red-keeled flowerpecker is used for D. haematostictum and D. australe is then known as the red-sided flowerpecker.

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The Negros scops owl, also known as the Visayan scops owl, is an owl, endemic to the islands of Negros and Panay in the Philippines, belonging to the family of the typical owls Strigidae. They were formerly classified as a subspecies of the Philippine scops owl. It is threatened by habitat loss and hunting for the pet trade.

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The Visayan rhabdornis is a species of bird currently placed in the starling family, Sturnidae. It is endemic to the central Philippines on the islands of Negros and Panay. It was previously considered a subspecies of the stripe-breasted rhabdornis. It is found in tropical moist montane forest. It is threatened by habitat loss.

Northern Negros Natural Park

The Northern Negros Natural Park is a protected area of the Philippines located in the northern mountainous forest region of the island of Negros in the Visayas. It is spread over five municipalities and six cities in the province of Negros Occidental and is the province's largest watershed and water source for seventeen municipalities and cities including the Bacolod metropolitan area. The park was established first as a forest reserve spanning 107,727 hectares on 28 April 1935 through Administrative Act No. 789 signed by Governor-General Frank Murphy. On 7 August 1946, the Northern Negros Forest Reserve was reduced to its present area of 80,454.5 hectares with the signing of Proclamation No. 798 by President Manuel Roxas. In 2005, the protected area was converted into a natural park under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act by virtue of Proclamation No. 895 signed by President Gloria Arroyo.

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References

  1. Grubb, P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 669. ISBN   978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC   62265494.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Brook, S.M. (2016). "Rusa alfredi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . 2016: e.T4273A22168782. doi: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T4273A22168782.en . Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  3. Meijaard, E.; Groves, C. (2004). "Morphometrical relationships between South-east Asian deer (Cervidae, tribe Cervini): evolutionary and biogeographic implications". Journal of Zoology . London. 263 (263): 179–196. doi:10.1017/S0952836904005011.
  4. 1 2 3 "Visayan spotted deer - Rusa alfredi - Information". ARKive. Archived from the original on 2013-01-12. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  5. 1 2 "Spotting the spotted deer - Leonor Magtolis Briones". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  6. "Rare deer reveals signs of life". BBC Earth News. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  7. Powell Ettinger (2009-07-22). "Wildlife Extra News - World's rarest deer found alive and well on Philippine islands". Wildlifeextra.com. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  8. "New plant, animal species found in Negros province - Regions - Official Website of GMA News and Public Affairs - Latest Philippine News". GMANews.TV. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2009-07-29.
  9. "World's rarest deer still roam Negros - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos". Newsinfo.inquirer.net. 2009-05-24. Retrieved 2009-07-29.