Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], December 5 (ANI): The Mouse deer has been included in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act (1972), implying that it is an endangered species.
Consequently, a conservation breeding and species recovery program for the Mouse deer was initiated in 2010, which showed surprising results in relation to the reproductive physiology of the animal.
In the conservation program, initiated by Nehru Zoological Park with the Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) at CSIR-CCMB, with support from Central Zoo Authority, two males and three females were involved with the aim of increasing their numbers in captivity and subsequently introducing them to the wild.
Dr. G Umapathy's group at LaCONES-CCMB studied the reproductive behaviour of mouse deer in captivity. They discovered the occurrence of post-partum estrus">estrus, mating within 4-6 hours of delivery. It is the shortest estrus">estrus period found among large mammals.
"We found that pheromones levels were significantly elevated in the female mouse deers during delivery, post-partum estrus">estrus and mating. We also found a positive correlation between pheromones and estrogens one week prior to post-partum estrus">estrus and mating. These findings suggest these pheromones play a role in reproduction of mouse deer by bringing opposite sexes together for mating in the wild as they live in solitary life. Our findings have already helped in breeding of mouse deer at Nehru Zoological park but will also help other Indian zoos and elsewhere," Dr. Umapathy said.
These findings were recently published in the journal Cells.
Mouse deer or Indian chevrotain is a major part of the forest ecosystem. It commonly functions as a seed dispenser and is an essential prey for small and large-sized carnivores. (ANI)