Pampas deer (Ozotoceros bezoarticus) live in the grasslands of South America at low elevations. They are known as venado or gama in Spanish and as veado-campeiro in Portuguese. Their habitat includes water and hills, often with winter drought, and grass that is high enough to cover a standing deer.
They are known to live up to 12 years in the wild, longer if captive, but are threatened due to over-hunting and habitat loss. Many people are concerned over this loss, because a healthy deer population means a healthy grassland, and a healthy grassland is home to many species, some also threatened.
Many North American birds migrate south and if the Pampas deer habitat is lost, they are afraid these bird species will also decline. There are approximately 80,000 Pampas deer total, with the majority of them living in Brazil.
The Pampas deer are part of the New World deer, another term for all South American deer species. Fossil records indicate that New World deer traveled to South America from North America as part of the Great American Interchange around 2.5 million years ago, following the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. It is believed that they rapidly evolved into different species, with only a few surviving today.
Pampas deers have tan fur, lighter on their undersides and insides of legs. Their coats do not change with the seasons. They have white spots above their lips and white patches on their throats. Their shoulder height is 60–65 cm (24–26 in) in females and 65–70 cm (26–28 in) in males. Their tails are short and bushy, 10 cm to 15 cm long, and when they run, they lift their tail to reveal a white patch, just like white-tailed deer.
Adult males typically weigh 24–34 kg (53–75 lb), but have been documented up to 40 kg (88 lb), and females typically weigh 22–29 kg (49–64 lb). They are a small species of deer, with relatively little sexual dimorphism.
Males have small, lightweight antlers that are 3-pronged, which go through a yearly cycle of shedding in August or September, with a new grown set by December. The lower front main prong of the antlers is not divided, but the upper prong is. Females have hair whorls that look like tiny antlers stubs. Females and males have different stances during urination.
Males have a strong smell secreted from glands in their back hooves that can be detected up to 1.5 km away.
Courtship behaviour is submissive, such as low stretching, crouching, and turning away. The male initiates courtship with a low stretch. He makes a soft buzzing sound. He nuzzles the female and may flick his tongue at her, and averts his eyes. He stays near her, and may follow her for a long time, smelling her urine. Sometimes the female responds to courtship by lying on the ground.
Pampas deer do not defend territory or mates, but do have displays of dominance. They show dominance by keeping their heads up and trying to keep their side forward, and use slow, deliberate movements. When bucks are challenging each other, they rub their horns into vegetation and scrape them on the ground. They may urinate into the scrape they’ve made, and sometimes defecate. They rub the scent glands on their heads and faces into plants and objects. They usually do not fight, but just spar with each other, and they do commonly bite.
Pampas deer have been seen eating new green growth, shrubs, and herbs. Most of the plant life they consume grows in moist soils.
The Pampas deer of southern Argentina once were very abundant, but are now considered a threatened species by the IUCN. The IUCN separates the subspecies O. b. celer in southern Argentina as endangered. The diseases that particularly plague O. b. celer are gut parasites and food and mouth diseases. Their overall decline is due in part from hunting and poaching, but also from habitat loss due to agriculture, diseases from domesticated and feral livestock, competition from more recently introduced wildlife, and general over-exploitation.
There is less than one per cent of their natural habitat left that was present in 1900.
(Source Wikipedia – The Free Online Encyclopedia)
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