Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bukhara deer (Bokhara deer)

The Bukhara deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus)

The Bukhara Deer lives in West Turkestan (Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) and adjacent areas in Northern Afghanistan to the west of the Tianshan Mountains.

Also called the Bactrian deer or Bactrian wapiti, it is a lowland subspecies of Red Deer that is native to central Asia. Similar in ecology to the Yarkand deer it occupies riparian corridors surrounded by deserts. Both subspecies are separated from one another by the Tianshan Mountains and probably form a primordial subgroup of Red Deer.

Conservation status : Vulnerable

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Suborder: Ruminantia

Family: Cervidae

Subfamily: Cervinae

Genus: Cervus

Species: C. elaphus

Subspecies: C. e. bactrianus

Trinomial name: Cervus elaphus bactrianus


The Bukhara deer is usually ashy-gray with yellowish sheen, and a grayish white rump patch. It also has a slightly marked dorsal stripe and a white margin of the upper lip, lower lip, and chin. They have a short tail like a Wapit but have no neck manes. The antlers are light in color. There are usually four tines, with the absence of bez tine. The fourth tine is better developed than the third. Full grown individuals, however, have five tines on each antler with a bend after the third tine that is characteristic of other Central Asian Red Deer subspecies.

Male Deer have a darker, grayish-brown coat pattern with darker legs, head, and neck and have stronger and thicker neck muscles than female deer that may give the appearance of a neck mane. Female deer are slightly smaller than male deer, but the difference in size is not as pronounced as it is in the European Red Deer.

Calves are generally born spotted much like European Red Deer calves, and most individuals lose their spots by adulthood. However, adults may possess a few spots on the backs of their summer coats. This phenomenon has also been observed in summer coats of the distantly related Manchurian Wapiti (Cervus canadensis xanthopygus) and many other subspecies of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus).

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has classified five subspecies as "Cervus elaphus". These five subspecies actually belong to the Central Asian Red Deer (Cervus affinis) species. The Shou (affinis) and Tibetan Red Deer (wallichi), MacNeill's Deer (macneilli) and Kansu Red Deer (kansuensis) are actually the same subspecies.

Distribution and habitat

Bactrian Deer are dependent on the lowland riparian corridors for food and shelter do not migrate but may disperse into adjacent desert areas at night or at times of cooler temperatures.


Aside from man, the wolf is probably the most dangerous of predators that most Central Asian Red Deer encounter. Occasionally, Brown Bear and Asiatic Black Bear will prey on these deer as well. Other possible predators are dholes and snow leopards. Eurasian Lynx and wild boars sometimes prey on the calves. In the past they were also hunted by the now extinct Caspian Tiger.


By 1999 there were not more than 400 Bukhara deer. The population diminished most drastically in Tajikistan because of the civil war. However, since then, environmental organizations have taken steps to save the species bringing Bukhara deer back to the places which it had once inhabited. As a result, in 2006 there were about 1000 deer in Central Asia. The global population of this rare deer is now estimated at about 1400 animals.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has put the Bactrian Deer (Cervus affinis bactrianus) in the Red Book (Vulnerable (D1))


1. Geist, Valerius (1998). Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behavior, and Ecology. Mechanicsburg, Pa: Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-0496-3.
2. Ludt, Christian J.; Wolf Schroeder, Oswald Rottmann, and Ralph Kuehn. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeography of red deer (Cervus elaphus) (pdf). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31 (2004) 1064–1083. Elsevier. Retrieved on 2006-10-06.
3. Cervus elaphus. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved on 2006-10-14.


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