Fallow deer

A great conservation success story – a subspecies brought back from the brink of extinction and now thriving

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The fallow deer is a species with a rich history of near-extinction and subsequent recovery, illustrating the profound impact of human activity on wildlife populations and the potential for successful conservation efforts. By the late 19th century, the fallow deer faced severe threats from overhunting and habitat destruction, leading many experts to believe the species had been driven to extinction. This belief persisted until the 1950s when a small but viable population was discovered in Iran, sparking efforts to revive and conserve this species.

The discovery of these surviving populations led to international collaboration to ensure the fallow deer’s survival. Captive breeding programs were initiated, notably in Iran and Israel, and later expanded to include countries such as Germany. These programs have been instrumental in increasing the numbers of fallow deer, enabling the reintroduction of these animals back into their natural habitats where they once roamed freely.

Fallow deer are medium-sized cervids distinguished by their unique physical characteristics, including their spotted coats in summer, palmate antlers in males, and a range of color variations from chestnut to almost black. They prefer mixed woodland and open grassland habitats, where they graze on a variety of vegetation.

Despite the success of captive breeding programs, our understanding of fallow deer behavior, social structure, and ecological needs in the wild remains limited. The information gleaned from animals in captivity provides valuable insights into their biology and breeding habits, but it may not fully capture the complexities of their interactions and behaviors in natural settings. This gap in knowledge underscores the need for further research and observation of fallow deer in their indigenous environments.

Distribution below is for Persian subspecies.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Iran
2015
Iraq
0
Official estimate
EX
2015
Extinct 1951
Israel
2015
Reintroduced
Jordan
0
Official estimate
EX
2015
Extinct 1875
Lebanon
0
Official estimate
EX
2015
Extinct 1875
Syria
0
Official estimate
EX
2015
Extinct 1875
Turkey
0
Official estimate
EX
2015
Extinct 1875

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Fallow deer on banknotes

Israel 100 New Shekels (2017)