Axis axis ceylonensis

Sri lankan axis deer

The Sri Lankan axis deer (Axis axis ceylonensis) or Ceylon Spotted Deer is a subspecies of axis deer (Axis axis) that inhabits only Sri Lanka. The name chital is not used in Sri Lanka.


Sri Lankan axis deer are active primarily during early morning and again during the evening, but they are commonly observed near waterholes anytime. The Sri Lankan axis deer eats primarily grasses, but it also eats fallen fruits and leaves. The Sri Lankan axis deer graze closely with langur, peacock, wild buffalo, and sambar. They usually lives in groups of between 10-60 animals, though herds may include up to 100 animals.

Axis deer are important prey for the Sri Lankan leopard. It is also prey for sloth bears and jackals.

Habitat Range and Conservation Status

These deer inhabit lowland dry forests, savannas, and shrub lands. Very rarely, these deer inhabit dry mountain areas.

Unlike the mainland axis deer (Axis axis) which is plentiful, Sri Lankan axis deer populations are considered to be vulnerable. Threats include hunting for meat and deforestation. Historically, axis deer were found in very large numbers in the entire dry zone of Sri Lanka, but these numbers have been significantly reduced. Today several thousands of these deer are found in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan axis deer are mainly found in protected areas in the dry zone, with a small number of herds living outside the protected forest areas. Large herds can be found only in protected areas.

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