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Daims de Mésopotamie © MNHN - P. Roux

Persian fallow deer

The Persian fallow deer, Dama mesopotamica, has long been considered an extinct species. It is one of the rarest and more endangered Cervids.


Class; order & family :

Mammalia, Cetartiodactyla, Cervidae

Genus :


Species :


Lifespan :

25 years

Height and weight :

1.10 m at the shoulder, 95 kg at the most

Gestation :

8 months, one baby

Natural habitat :

riverside wooded areas and forests

Diet :

grasses, leaves

Native region :

Iran, Iraq

Conservation programme :


IUCN status: 

EN, endangered

Way of life

Because of its rarity, not much is known about the Persian fallow deer’s behaviour in the wild. It is solitary or lives in small herds which move according to the seasons and food availability. Males establish their territories during the breeding season between July and October.

Distinguishing features

The Persian fallow deer is larger than the European fallow deer, and, while its coat colour is identical, its antlers are different: they are larger but have fewer branches, not exhibiting the broad upper palm characteristic of their cousins.


Historically, the range of the Persian fallow deer extended from Tunisia to Iran, passing through Turkey, Palestine and Lebanon. A victim of hunting and desertification, it was considered to be extinct until it was rediscovered in Iran in 1875. With the population not being seen or heard from, it was once again declared extinct in the wild in 1951. When, a few years later, a small population was observed again in Khuzestan, an Iranian province close to the Iraqi border, measures were immediately taken to protect the species and encourage its breeding in captivity.

The political situation in the few regions where they remain does not bode well for its short-term conservation. It is vital to study the population genetics and create new protected areas. The few zoos that house this Cervid, such as the Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche, are currently working towards reintroducing them, especially in Israel.

Daims de Mésopotamie © MNHN - P. Roux
Daims de Mésopotamie © MNHN - P. Roux
Daims de Mésopotamie © MNHN - P. Roux