Kanha National Park known as the land of the tiger is home to many animals besides the big cats. One of the most charismatic animal is the Hard Ground Swamp Deer or the Barasingha. This is a gregarious species of Red Deer and was once found in large herds in and around the Kanha National Park.
The swamp deer have proclivity towards swampy grasslands but in case of Kanha there is a scarcity of such habitat. Hence the deer has become adopted to hard ground by evolution of a morphological change. Unlike other swamp deer species of India the Cervus Duavcelli Branderi does not have splayed hoofs. The main food is some species of grasses which abound in Kanha Meadows.
The Branderi Barasingha was brought back from extinction in the sixties. A significant contribution of Dr.Schaller et. el. was active in saving this species. From about sixty six heads the population is now over three hundred fifty. A very large enclosure was established for additional protection of the deer. In absence of predation the survival rate of the fawns increased rapidly hence the result.
The swamp deer in Kanha breed in the Sonf Meadow and some other grasslands. The mating period is in peak winters.Normally one fawn is born after a gestation period of six months. The deer is sensitive to human incursions hence needs complete isolation.
These animals avoid human settlements and are rarely found near them. The nearest relative is the sambar deer which is ubiquitous. It can also be seen near the hotels in Kanha in the adjoining forests. To see the deer one should visit Kanha National Park anytime. Large herds congregate in summers in meadows with abundant water. Kanha Meadow is one of the finest place to see the Hard Ground Swamp Deer.