The Burmese Brow-Antlered Deer or Eld’s Deer (Rucervus eldii) is a medium size South East Asian deer. The species is classified by the IUCN as Endangered.
The global Eld’s deer population is currently very localised to small areas within the species’ former range. There are three sub-species. R. e. eldii is now confined to a single small population in Manipur, India. R. e. thamin still occurs in several localised areas of central Myanmar. R. e. siamensis occurs in one or two small localised populations in Lao PDR and as scattered small subpopulations mainly in the northern and eastern lowlands of Cambodia.
In Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam the most obvious threat to Eld’s deer is hunting, which in addition to local consumption of meat is driven by a thriving and probably increasing trade in bushmeat, a national, regional and East Asian market for traditional medicinal products derived from the species, and a regional international market for trophy antlers.
The effects of hunting have been exacerbated by forest loss and fragmentation which is rapidly accelerating with human population in-migration, infrastructural developments (especially roads), commercial agricultural expansion, economic land speculation and mineral extraction.
Human in-migration and subsequent agricultural encroachment into forest areas tends to concentrate on those habitats most used by Eld’s deer, and thus the species has suffered more than most from hunting. As an inhabitant of relatively open habitat through which travel and transport are easy.
The only subspecies in western zoos is the R.e.thamin subspecies also known as the Burmese Brow-Antlered Deer.
Rucervus eldii has been maintained in European collections since 1957 when animals arrived from an unknown source into Paris Zoo. A second import from Rangoon Zoo through dealers to Berlin Zoo and Leipzig occurred in 1968. It is from these two imports that the current European population has developed. Unlike some cervids, the species has never been numerous and has resided mainly in the same small number of collections.
In 2013 a European Studbook for the Elds Deer or Burmese Brow Antlered Deer was established . The programme was upgraded to an EEP in 2015. The EEP is managed by Matt Hartley of Zoo and Wildlife Solutions and sponsored by Chester Zoo. The first addition of the studbook is available on the Resources page.
A study on the management of the species in European zoos was published in the journal Zoo Biology in 2017 and this formed the basis of Best Practice Husbandry Guidelines which will be published win 2018.
Please see the Conservation pages for information on the work Zoo and Wildlife Solutions is doing to help save this species.
For more information or if you zoo would potentially like to hold Eld’s Deer please contact me.