A close relative of the chital is the much smaller hog deer or Para. Stags attain a shoulder height of about 70cm and weight of 55kg and hinds are proportionally smaller (60cm, 30-35kg). The hog deer was first liberated in Victoria in 1865 and has established its range in the coastal regions of South and East Gippsland Victoria Australia.
Its coat ranges from a uniform dark brown during winter to a rich reddish-brown in summer at which time light coloured spots along the sides and on either side of the dark dorsal stripe are visible in individuals. Antlers are normally three tined, but extra points are not uncommon.
In behavior, the hog deer differs from the chital in that while it may be seen in numbers on attractive feeding areas, it lives and acts as an individual. This can probably be attributed to its evolution in the tall grasslands (up to five metres high) along the major rivers in Northern India and Nepal. In this dense grass jungle, herding would not have been a practical option. In common with many other tropical species, breeding activity is spread throughout the year, although in Australia a calving peak occurs in late winter and spring, roughly coinciding with antler casting in the stags.
Hog Deer Victoria Australia
The open season for Hog Deer is restricted to a single month from April 1 to the April 30 each year
Note: Breeding and calving in Hog Deer can occur at anytime throughout the year. The above represents peak breeding and calving periods that have been identified in the Australian literature.
The total Victorian population of Hog Deer consists of a number of small, isolated populations and is under pressure from a decline in habitat quality and quantity as land is cleared and freshwater marshes and wetlands are drained. Therefore, when considering the timing of the open season, it is important to ensure the population is at its maximum and that hunting does not occur during periods of stress or vulnerability.
The current month-long Hog Deer season in April is considered to be consistent with the biology of the species as, generally, the majority of hinds have conceived, stags are in hard antler and calves born in spring have been weaned and are self-sufficient before the season opens. The open season avoids hunting during the peak breeding period in Summer, when stags are particularly vulnerable, and avoids any disruption to mating, which may affect productivity. An April season also avoids the hardships of winter when population levels are at their lowest and deer are subject to environmental extremes and food shortages.
The restricted length of the Hog Deer season is also used as a mechanism to regulate harvest. While it is considered that the current yield of Hog Deer is sustainable, should the season length be extended beyond one month, there is some concern that the increased level of take could not be sustained. Should the season be extended in length, it is considered that alternative measures would need to be employed to limit harvest to an appropriate level. This could be done by further restricting the bag limit or limiting the number of hunters permitted to hunt. MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE