Venado de los pantanos (Sp), Sumpfhirsch (G), Blastocère (F). Local names are pantanos deer and guazu pucu. Occasionally called swamp deer or delta deer.
DESCRIPTION (male) Shoulder height 40-44 inches (102-112 cm). Weight 200-275 pounds (90-125 kg).
The largest South American deer, often with fine antlers. The coat is long and coarse, bright chestnut in summer, turning browner in winter, with flanks, neck and chest lighter. The lower legs and muzzle are black. The ears are very broad and are rimmed with white inside. The tail is bushy, yellowish-red above and black underneath. The hoofs can spread widely and are connected by a strong membrane, enabling this animal to move about on soft ground without sinking in. The rather thick antlers are somewhat similar to those of a North American mule deer, with the usual mature rack having double forks (but no brow tines) for a total of four points on each side. Antlers with 5-6 points to a side are seen and abnormal racks with as many as 28 points have occurred.
BEHAVIOR Solitary or in small groups consisting typically of an older male with two females and the young of the year. Apparently, the males do not fight for possession of females. As with most tropical deer, there seems to be no fixed breeding season and newborn fawns (normally one) can be seen throughout the year. There is no fixed season for antlers to be dropped and regrown and bucks can be seen with or without antlers at any time.
Secluded most of the day, entering clearings to feed in the evening or at night. Enters water frequently. Feeds on grasses, reeds and water plants. Wary and difficult to approach.
HABITAT Marshes, wet grasslands, wooded islands and damp forest edges. Must have access to higher ground during seasonal flooding of grasslands if it is to survive.
DISTRIBUTION Southeastern Peru, Bolivia, Brazil south of the Amazon forest, Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, and possibly western Uruguay.
TAXONOMIC NOTES No subspecies are recognized.
STATUS The marsh deer's numbers and distribution have declined from loss of habitat to farming and marsh drainage, from uncontrolled poaching by locals, and possibly from diseases contracted from cattle. Persecuted by ranchers when forced by floods onto high ground where they compete with domestic stock for limited forage. Listed as endangered by the USF&WS (1970) and on Appendix I of CITES (1975).