Manipur Brow-antlered deer, Keibul Lamjao

by Ramki Sreenivasan
Ramki Sreenivasan

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Also known as Dancing Deer, the sangai or brow antlered deer of Manipur is predominantly restricted to the southern parts of Manipur's Loktak Lake, and manages to survive on the floating mass of tangled vegetation locally known as Phumdi.

The Keibul Lamjao, a unique ‘floating’ reserve situated in Manipur in India’s Northeast, is home to the last of the Manipur brow-antlered deer or Sangai (Rucervus eldii eldii), one of the most endangered deer in the world.

It’s not certain how many survive in the 40 sq. km KLNP. A head count in April last year put the number at 204. This year, according to the park’s field director, there haven’t been enough funds for a proper count. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) believes the figure could be much less. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, it estimated the deer population at 90, 88 and 92, respectively.

Dr. M. K. Ranjitsinh, who undertook a helicopter survey of the deer in 1975, wrote “Reduced to just 14 in a single habitat merely six square kilometres in extent, the sangai was once the rarest taxon in the world. Its recovery is proof that it is almost never too late and that while there is life, there is hope. The dedication with which the people of Manipur have claimed the sangai as their very own, is a model that should be the envy and the goal of all.”

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