|The Iranian red deer is bigger than the European race, an adult stag reaching a height of approximately 140 cm at the shoulder and a weight of 250 kg. It is also distinguished from the European deer by almost invariably possessing two brow tines, rather than one, for each antler. Otherwise the two races are very much alike. It is of a dark gray color except during the summer, when the pelage becomes a rufous dark brown. The fawns are reddish brown with white spots.
In Iran the [email protected] once ranged throughout the forested areas of the northern slopes of the Alborz and in the oak forests on the western slopes of the Zagros extending from Azerbaijan into western [email protected] It has disappeared completely from the Zagros range; the last survivors were recorded as being in the [email protected]@n region of Azerbaijan about 50 years ago. In the western Caspian region too, it has either been eliminated or become extremely scarce; and it is now found in the more remote central and eastern Alborz wooded areas, primarily in a number of reserves in these regions which contain relatively pristine forests.
In the past the red deer occurred literally from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the high alpine meadows of the Alborz mountains. In fact, in the early 1950s hunters would often penetrate portions of the scrub forests of the [email protected] plain in four-wheel drive vehicles at night to shoot the deer, only descending to collect any animal killed. All the littoral forests, with one or two small exceptions, have now been eliminated and replaced by cultivation, orchards, and habitation. Owing to an absence of control, large areas of the mountain forests too have been destroyed or almost irreversibly damaged in the past quarter century. Thus from year to year the habitat of the [email protected]@l is becoming more and more confined.
[email protected] favor oak forests. Herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees appear to be of equal importance as sources of food. They will also eat fruits and berries in the summer, while acorns are particularly favored in autumn and winter. They are social animals—when not threatened— their gregariousness being more prevalent during the colder seasons.
The rut usually commences at the end of summer in Iran and is manifested by the roaring (bellowing) of the mature stags. The onset of the rut and degree of roaring are predicated on weather conditions; thus a drop in temperature will activate the males, whereas warmer weather will reduce it. Further, the intensity of the roaring is usually in inverse proportion to the size of the harem and to the degree of threat sensed by the stags; hence they may be silent in one area, whilst in a nearby reserve full-throated roaring is heard. At this time adult stags will engage in fights for the possession of their harems. These are quite serious on occasion, even terminating in the death of one of the antagonists.
PERSIAN RED DEERS