SULTANPUR NATIONAL PARK, NEAR GURGAON, HARYANA, INDIA.

The Swamp Deer.

Inside the 352 acres Sultanpur National Park, a hind grazes at a leisure pace unworried about being ambushed by a big cat or one of her other predators.Her acute sense of smell tells her there are none here and now so does her instincts. There are humans walking around but she doesn’t mind them, as long as they do not stray too near. She is a very social animal and more tolerant than the park’s other mammal resident: the Blue Bull.

The males of her species are better known as the famous Indian Barasinghas on account of their unique antlers that can grow up to 73 cm. Males need the antlers to wrestle with other males during courtship and territorial conflicts. The antlers can also fetch in a handsome price in the market, and coupled with habitat loss has put the species under the threat of extinction since the 1930s.

Conservation efforts have helped pause the decline and even brought about a slight increase in the population. Still, the threat remains. And this time not just from natural predators and human huntsmen. In 2012 an article published in the Telegraph, revealed the eastern branch of the species at the Kaziranga National Park, were exhibiting extreme vulnerability to diseases transmitted by cattle.

Estimated numbers are way less than 4,000  and at Sultanpur the hind probably is the only one of her species.