The Indian hog deer, Axis porcinus, a small Asian deer, once very commonplace, has now virtually disappeared from Indochina. There are still a few scattered populations that, aside from those in protected areas, are still threatened by poaching and environmental degradation.
Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Cervidae
15 to 20 years
60 to 80 cm at the shoulder, 50 kg at the most
7.5 months, one baby
forest edges, clearings and meadows
grasses, leaves, fruit
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan
Way of life
Mainly solitary creatures, Indian hog deer only gather when food resources are sufficient or during mating season. Unlike most Cervidae, males do not form harems and only mate with one female. Births occur at the beginning of the dry season. Fawns, who are usually dotted with white spots, spend several weeks hidden in the tall grass, sheltered from their main predators (tigers, dholes, panthers, pythons).
In the event of danger, Indian hog deer flee in different directions, rather than together in a herd, while making warning noises. The good swimmers among them take refuge in the water.
Its stocky appearance and the way that the Indian hog deer moves, with its head low under the forest canopies in search of food, means it bears a striking resemblance to the domestic animal that it shares its name with and, just like a hog, it gets past obstacles by passing beneath them and not by jumping over them like other Cervidae do! It has nothing to do with having a pig’s physique and a corkscrew tail...
Males are generally larger and darker than females. Their antlers are relatively simple, made up of only 3 branches.
The Indian hog deer have several marking glands: “preorbital glands” in front of the eyes and, on their hind limbs, interdigital glands (between the digits) and metatarsal glands (on the legs).
Once widely spread from Pakistan to Indochina, the Indian hog deer have virtually disappeared from China, Cambodia and Vietnam. There are many reasons for their decline: they are hunted for their meat or their antlers, which are used in traditional medicine, they are hunted down by farmers, and are seeing the loss and degradation of their natural habitat... Their numbers have decreased by 50% or even as much as 90% over the past 20 years in the Philippines and Thailand. In India and Nepal, outside of protected areas, some viable populations are resisting, despite pressure from hunting.