Saturday, January 13, 2024

Hog Deer

Hog Deer UPSC

The hog deer (Axis porcinus) or Pada is a small to medium-sized deer species native to South and Southeast Asia. Hog deer are relatively small compared to other deer species. 

The hog deer's range extends from Pakistan, through northern and central India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and into parts of Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

The conservation status of hog deer varies across its range. In some areas, populations are stable, while in others, they face threats such as habitat loss, hunting, and competition with livestock for resources.

In some regions, hog deer are hunted for their meat and antlers, posing a threat to their populations. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and manage hog deer populations in various parts of their range.

Table of Contents

  • Hog Deer Characteristics
    • Classification
    • Scientific Name
    • Habitat
    • Physical Appearance
    • Diet
    • Behavior
    • Reproduction
    • Lifespan
  • Hog Deer in India
  • Hog Deer Protection Status
  • Hog Deer Conservation
  • Threats
  • Hog Deer UPSC Question

Hog Deer Characteristics

What are the characteristics of the Indian hog deer?

Here are some key characteristics of the hog deer (Axis porcinus):

1. Classification:

The hog deer belongs to the following taxonomic classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Cervidae
  • Subfamily: Cervinae
  • Genus: Axis
  • Species: porcinus

2. Scientific Name:

The scientific name for the hog deer is Axis porcinus. 

3. Sub-species:

The hog deer (Axis porcinus) exhibits regional variations, and two sub-species have been identified within its range:

(i) Western Race:

This sub-species is distributed in the western part of the hog deer's range, including Pakistan and the Terai grasslands along the Himalayan foothills, from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh. 

(ii) Eastern Race:

The eastern sub-species of hog deer is found in Southeast Asia, specifically in countries such as Thailand, Indo-China (including Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia), and Vietnam.

4. Habitat:

Hog deer (Axis porcinus) inhabit a variety of ecosystems, and their distribution spans South and Southeast Asia. Their preferred habitats include:

(i) Grasslands:

Hog deer are often found in grassy areas, including open grasslands and meadows. These habitats provide them with suitable feeding grounds and areas for movement.

(ii) Swamps and Wetlands:

They are well adapted to swampy and wetland areas. Hog deer are good swimmers, and they may take to water to escape predators or find food. Wetlands also offer a diverse range of vegetation that forms part of their diet.

(iii) Forests:

Hog deer can be found in forested areas, including both deciduous and evergreen forests. They may use the forest cover for shelter and protection, especially during unfavorable weather conditions.

(iv) Proximity to Water Sources:

Hog deer are often associated with areas close to water sources such as rivers, streams, and ponds. This is not only because they are good swimmers but also because water is essential for their survival.

5. Physical Appearance:

The physical appearance of the hog deer (Axis porcinus) can be described as follows:

(i) Size and Weight:

Hog deer are relatively small to medium-sized deer. Adult males (stags) are larger than females (hinds).

  • Mature hog deer stags stand about 70 centimeters (28 inches) at the shoulder.
  • Stags weigh approximately 50 kilograms (110 pounds).
  • Hinds are smaller, standing about 61 centimeters (24 inches) and weighing around 30 kilograms (66 pounds).

(ii) Coat Color:

The coat of hog deer is typically brown, with a lighter color on the underside. The exact shade of brown can vary, and during the summer months, the coat may take on a more reddish-brown hue, while in winter, it may appear grayer.

(iii) Antlers:

Hog deer have relatively small and simple antlers. The antlers typically have three points, and they are not as complex or elaborate as those of some other deer species. The antlers are usually present on males, while females typically do not have antlers.

(iv) Body Build:

Their body is compact and sturdy. The legs are relatively short compared to some other deer species. The line of the back slopes upward from the shoulders to a high rump. This build is adapted to their habitat, which includes grasslands, swamps, and forests.

(v) Facial Features:

Hog deer have a distinctive facial appearance with large, expressive eyes. Their ears are generally medium-sized and may have a reddish or brownish tint.

(vi) Tail:

The tail is fairly short and brown, tipped with white. The underside of the tail is white, and the deer can fan the white hairs out in a distinctive alarm display.

(vii) Seasonal Changes:

Like many deer species, hog deer may undergo seasonal changes in coat color to better blend in with their surroundings. These changes are often associated with variations in temperature and daylight.

(viii) Sexual Dimorphism:

Males (bucks) are generally larger than females (does), and the presence of antlers is a clear sexual dimorphism characteristic. Females lack antlers and tend to have a more petite appearance.

6. Diet:

The diet of the Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) is herbivorous and primarily consists of various plant materials. Here are some aspects of their diet:

(i) Grasses:

Hog deer are known to graze on a variety of grasses. Grass forms a significant part of their diet, and they can often be found in grassy habitats where they feed on different species of grasses.

(ii) Herbs and Forbs:

In addition to grasses, hog deer also consume a variety of herbs and forbs. These can include a range of non-grassy, broad-leaved plants that provide additional nutritional value.

(iii) Aquatic Plants:

Given their adaptation to swampy and wetland areas, hog deer may feed on aquatic plants. This includes plants that grow in or around water bodies.

(iv) Shrubs and Trees:

While not their primary food source, hog deer may browse on shrubs and low-hanging vegetation. In forested areas, they may consume leaves and tender shoots from shrubs and young trees.

(v) Seasonal Variations:

The diet of hog deer can vary with the seasons. During the winter, when grass growth may be limited, they may rely more on browse and other available vegetation. In the summer, with increased plant growth, they may focus more on grazing.

7. Behavior:

The behavior of the Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) is influenced by various factors, including their habitat, social structure, and ecological adaptations. Here are some aspects of their behavior:

(i) Activity Patterns:

Hog deer are primarily crepuscular, meaning they are most active during the dawn and dusk hours. During these times, they are often observed feeding, socializing, or engaging in other activities.

(ii) Solitary or Small Groups:

Hog deer are generally solitary animals or found in small groups. These small groups may consist of females and their offspring.

(iii) Territorial Behavior:

Males (bucks) may exhibit territorial behavior, marking their territory through various means, including scent marking. They may engage in territorial disputes with other males during the breeding season.

(iv) Communication:

Communication among hog deer involves vocalizations, body language, and scent marking. They may produce alarm calls or other vocalizations to communicate with each other.

(v) Swimming Ability:

Hog deer are good swimmers and may take to water for various reasons, including escaping predators or finding food. Their ability to swim is an adaptation to the swampy and wetland areas they inhabit.

(vi) Feeding Behavior:

Their diet is herbivorous, consisting of grasses, herbs, forbs, and other vegetation. They are selective feeders, choosing a variety of plant species based on availability and nutritional content.

(vii) Grooming and Self-Care:

Hog deer engage in grooming behaviors to clean their fur and maintain their coat. They may also engage in self-care activities, such as rubbing against trees or bushes.

(viii) Anti-Predator Behavior:

When alarmed or threatened, hog deer may display an alarm behavior, including fanning the white hairs on the underside of their tail. This serves as a visual signal to warn other deer in the vicinity.

(ix) Migration:

In some regions, hog deer may undertake seasonal movements or migrations in search of food, water, or suitable breeding grounds.

8. Reproduction:

The reproduction of Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) involves specific behaviors and seasonal patterns. Here are the key aspects of their reproductive biology:

(i) Breeding Season (Rut):

The breeding season, also known as the rut, typically occurs during specific times of the year. The timing can vary, but it often takes place in the cooler months. During the rut males gather in open meadows.

(ii) Courtship Behavior:

During the rut, male hog deer engage in courtship behavior to attract females. This may include vocalizations, displays, and physical interactions with potential mates.

(iii) Territorial Behavior:

Males may become territorial during the rut, marking their territory with glandular secretions. Territorial behavior is often associated with the competition for mating rights.

(iv) Aggressive Displays:

Male hog deer may engage in aggressive displays during the rut, especially when encountering rival males. Pawing the ground is one such behavior observed during antagonistic encounters.

(v) Single Female Courtship:

Unlike some other deer species, hog deer do not form harems during the rut. Instead, individual males court and defend a single female at any given time.

(vi) Mating:

Once a male successfully courts a female, mating takes place. The copulation process ensures fertilization, and the female becomes pregnant.

(vii) Gestation Period:

The gestation period for hog deer is approximately seven months. During this time, the female carries the developing offspring.

(viii) Birth and Offspring:

After the gestation period, females give birth to one or two fawns. The birth typically occurs in a concealed location, and the mother cares for and nurses the young.

(ix) Parental Care:

Female hog deer provide maternal care to their fawns, protecting and nursing them during their early stages of life. This care is crucial for the survival and development of the offspring.

9. Lifespan:

The lifespan of Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) in the wild can vary, and it is influenced by factors such as environmental conditions, predation, and human-induced threats. On average, the lifespan of hog deer is estimated to be around 8 to 10 years in their natural habitat. However, individual lifespans can be shorter or longer depending on various factors.

In captivity, where they are protected from many natural threats and provided with optimal conditions, hog deer may have longer lifespans. In zoos or conservation centers, they can sometimes live beyond 10 years.

Hog Deer in India

Where is hog deer found in India?

The Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) is native to the Indian subcontinent, including the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This species is found in various regions across South Asia and Southeast Asia. 

Specifically, within the Indian subcontinent, the hog deer's range extends across countries such as India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and parts of Pakistan.

The Indian hog deer is found in various parts of India. Hog deer are distributed across different states in India, primarily in the northern, northeastern, and central regions. 

It inhabits the alluvial grasslands of the Terai forest (along the Himalayan foothills, from Punjab to Arunachal Pradesh). A small population of Hog deer also found in Keibul Lamjao National Park, Manipur. 

Hog Deer Protection Status

1. IUCN Status:

The Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) is currently classified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List, it indicates a more severe level of threat to its survival. The "Endangered" status means that the species faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild if the factors causing its decline are not mitigated.

2. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:

The Indian hog deer is placed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) in India.

Hog Deer Conservation

Conservation efforts for the Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) aim to address the various threats the species faces and promote its long-term survival. Some key aspects of hog deer conservation include:

1. Habitat Preservation:

Protecting and preserving the natural habitats of hog deer is crucial. This involves identifying and safeguarding areas with suitable grasslands, swamps, and open forests where hog deer are known to inhabit.

2. Anti-Poaching Measures:

Implementing effective anti-poaching measures is essential to combat illegal hunting and trade of hog deer. This may involve increased law enforcement, monitoring, and penalties for poaching activities.

3. Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation:

Addressing conflicts between humans and hog deer is important for both the conservation of the species and the well-being of local communities. Strategies may include community awareness programs, habitat management, and the development of sustainable practices.

4. Research and Monitoring:

Conducting research on hog deer populations, their behavior, and their habitats helps in understanding the specific needs and challenges faced by the species. Regular monitoring helps track population trends and identify emerging threats.

5. Conservation Education:

Educating local communities, stakeholders, and the general public about the importance of hog deer conservation can foster a sense of responsibility and promote sustainable coexistence.

6. Habitat Restoration:

Rehabilitating and restoring degraded habitats can enhance the available resources for hog deer and contribute to the overall health of the ecosystem.

7. Translocation and Reintroduction:

In some cases, translocation or reintroduction programs may be considered to establish or boost hog deer populations in areas where they have become locally extinct or are at risk.

8. International Collaboration:

Collaborating with international organizations and governments helps garner support, funding, and expertise for comprehensive conservation programs.

9. Legislation and Policy:

Strengthening and enforcing wildlife protection laws and policies contributes to the legal framework for hog deer conservation. It also helps in regulating activities that may pose a threat to the species.

10. Genetic Management:

Maintaining genetic diversity within hog deer populations is crucial for their long-term viability. Genetic management strategies may be implemented to avoid inbreeding and genetic decline.


The Indian hog deer (Axis porcinus) faces various threats to its survival, and addressing these threats is crucial for its conservation. Some of the primary threats to hog deer populations include:

1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation:

Destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats due to agricultural expansion, urbanization, and infrastructure development limit the available space for hog deer. This reduces their access to suitable food sources and increases the risk of isolation, genetic issues, and difficulty in finding mates.

2. Poaching and Illegal Hunting:

Hog deer are often targeted by poachers for their meat, skin, and antlers. Poaching, driven by illegal wildlife trade, poses a significant threat to hog deer populations and can lead to population declines.

3. Human-Wildlife Conflict:

Expansion of human settlements into hog deer habitats can result in conflicts. Crop damage caused by hog deer may lead to retaliatory killings by farmers, further threatening the population.

4. Climate Change:

Climate change can affect the availability of suitable habitats and food sources for hog deer. Altered weather patterns, changes in vegetation, and increased frequency of extreme weather events can impact their overall well-being.

5. Introduction of Invasive Species:

The introduction of invasive plant species can negatively impact hog deer habitats, reducing the availability of natural food sources and altering ecosystem dynamics.

6. Disease:

Disease outbreaks, particularly those transmitted from domestic animals, can have detrimental effects on hog deer populations. Disease susceptibility may increase when hog deer come into contact with livestock.

7. Pollution:

Water pollution and contamination from agricultural runoff, industrial activities, or improper waste disposal can negatively impact the water sources that hog deer rely on.

8. Unsustainable Land Use Practices:

Practices such as unsustainable logging, overgrazing by domestic livestock, and monoculture plantations can degrade hog deer habitats, reducing the quality and quantity of available resources.

9. Lack of Conservation Awareness:

Insufficient awareness and understanding of the importance of hog deer and their conservation needs among local communities, policymakers, and the general public can hinder effective conservation efforts.

10. Limited Genetic Diversity:

Small and isolated populations may experience reduced genetic diversity, making them more vulnerable to diseases and environmental changes. Inbreeding depression can negatively impact the overall health and adaptability of the species.

Addressing these threats requires a multi-faceted approach that includes habitat protection, anti-poaching measures, sustainable land use practices, community engagement, and conservation education. Collaborative efforts involving government agencies, non-governmental organizations, local communities, and international partners are essential for the successful conservation of the Indian hog deer.

Hog Deer UPSC Question

Q. What is a hog deer?

A. The hog deer (Axis porcinus) is a small to medium-sized deer species native to South and Southeast Asia. 

Q. What is a hog deer also known as?

A. In certain regions of India, the hog deer is locally referred to as "Para" or "Pada".

Q. What is the IUCN status of Indian hog deer?

A. The IUCN status of Indian hog deer is Endangered.

Hog Deer

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