Venado de la pampa (Sp), Pampashirsch (G), Cerf des pampas (F). Common name is from the Spanish pampa, a treeless plain, which is this deer's preferred habitat. Local names are venado (generally), guazu-ti (Paraguay), veado campeiro or veado branco (Brazil).
DESCRIPTION (male) Shoulder height 27-29 inches (69-74 cm). Weight 65-90 pounds (30-40 kg).
The most elegant deer in South America, slender and long-legged. The short, smooth coat is yellowish-brown in color, with underparts and inside of ears white and the face darker. Fawns are spotted. The short, bushy tail is dark brown above and white beneath. The hair forms whorls at base of neck and center of back. The Argentine subspecies is somewhat lighter in color and, on rare occasions, albinos have been seen. The antlers are small and symmetrical with three points to a side.
BEHAVIOR Tends to be alone or in pairs during the winter, in larger groups or small herds in the spring. Males are often solitary all year. Except in Argentina, where the young are born in April, there does not seem to be a definite breeding season. Elsewhere, fawns have been observed at various seasons. Unlike most deer, the male stays with the female after the single fawn is born and helps guard it from predators.
Hides in high grass or bush during the day, emerging to graze in the evening or at night. Fond of lying in the sun in the morning, then bathing in a river. A fast runner, though it usually conceals itself instead of running off. Males give off a strong, garlicky odor from glands on the hind hoofs that is noticeable one mile (1.6 km) away. (Has been called "the stinking deer)".
HABITAT Prefers open grassy plains. However, much of its former habitat has been usurped by farming so that some populations have been forced into forests or rough country.
DISTRIBUTION Southeastern Bolivia, Paraguay, southern Brazil, Uruguay, and northern and central Argentina.
TAXONOMIC NOTES There are three subspecies: O. b. bezoarticus (Brazilian pampas deer), from central Brazil; O. b. lecogaster (Gran Chaco pampas deer), from southeastern Bolivia, southwestern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina; and O. b. celer (Argentine pampas deer), from the pampas region of Argentina and Uruguay. We do not separate them.
STATUS There were an estimated two million pampas deer during the latter part of the 19th century, with a thriving commercial hunting industry and large numbers of hides exported. Their numbers and distribution range have since declined drastically from uncontrolled hunting, loss of habitat to farming, and diseases transmitted by domestic animals.
The Argentine subspecies was once common in the central pampas zones of Argentina and adjoining western Uruguay, but today is found only on a few private properties in Buenos Aires and San Luis provinces in Argentina, where it is totally protected. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN. All forms of pampas deer are listed as endangered by the USF&WS (1976) and are on Appendix I of CITES (1975).