Motherly love in the World’s rarest deer is an important part of in the species battle for survival, as its South American habitat disappears.
Wet grassland and marsh is the preferred habitat of the Marsh Deer, but this habitat is disappearing fast due to two factors.
Firstly, much of the native grassland and marshlands in South America is considered of low value by many land owners and is converted into plantations of pine. The Argentine government allows tax incentives for this change of land use, so international businesses and financial institutions can earn a higher return on investment by buying the land and converting it. One of these institutions is Harvard University in the United States.
Secondly, there has been a massive expansion of Soybean cultivation Worldwide. Soybeans are used as a commodity in many processed foods but the majority goes as cattle feed. South American natural habitats are being devastated by the boom in the growing of Soy, particularly in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. As the populations of China and India grow and become more wealthy their diet is changing from rice based to meat. Cattle need feed and Soy is becoming a preferred source of feed.
Wildlife suffers and one of the mammals that has suffered is the shy and secretive Marsh Deer.
The Marsh deer has a very restricted range (see above). The Marsh Deer was once abundant throughout this range. In Uruguay it is extinct.
The Marsh Deer population is losing ground and is ranked as Vulnerable with a decreasing population by the ICUN.
Paula and I visited the Corrientes province of Argentina several times and have been fortunate enough to find and watch the elusive Marsh Deer.
Not a lot is understood about the biology of this deer.
But as we watched the Deer, we were delighted to see that the small family units were very caring to each other.
Females would never wander far from their youngsters.
We saw many occasions when the mother and young would mutually groom each other.
It is this strong parental bond which gives us hope that this beautiful deer will find a home and succeed in maintaining a viable population in today’s populous world.