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Eld's Deer (Cervus eldi) Research

Two Eld's deer at CRCScientists at the CRC have been working with Eld's deer for almost a decade. This species, once found throughout southeast Asia, only occupies a fraction of its original range. The majority of this current range is in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Eld's deer are an endangered species, and it is estimated that only 1,500 can be found in the wild. The majority of these animals can be found in Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary in Myanmar. Research has been conducted at Chatthin in order to establish baseline biological data for this species which has otherwise been undefined. Without this baseline knowledge, it is impossible to make successful management decisions.

click to enlarge map of historic and present ranges of Eld's deer
Historic and Present Ranges of Eld's Deer (Click to enlarge with more details)

Through extensive radio-tracking and other survey techniques conducted by local wildlife staff, it has been observed that eld's deer prefer dry dipterocarp forest. This forest type occurs in dry areas of southeast asia below 1,000 meters elevation. Unfortunately, these characteristics are also well suited for agriculture. As the human population has increased in the last century, most of the dry dipterocarp forest has been converted to agricultural land. This rapid change in land use has decimated the habitat available for eld's deer, and is considered the largest threat to their survival.

Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary Forest (green) and nonforest (beige) areas in and around Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary

Current research at the CRC is addressing the issue of habitat loss through the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing. Satellite images obtained from different dates and different spatial scales are being analyzed in order to determine the current extent of dry dipterocarp forest. This analysis will provide insight into where unknown populations of eld's deer may be found, as well as where future reintroduction efforts may be successful.