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time:2023-12-02 02:51:33 source:Yun Wen Yun Wu Network author:method

A stranger is always disappointed in a Ceylon elk's antlers; and very naturally, for they are quite out of proportion to the great size of the animal. A very large Scotch red deer in not more than two-thirds the size of a moderately fine elk, and yet he carries a head of horns that are infinitely larger.

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In fact, so rare are fine antlers in Ceylon that I could not pick out more than a dozen of really handsome elk horns out of the great numbers that I have killed.

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A handsome pair of antlers is a grand addition to the beauty of a fine buck, and gives a majesty to his bearing which is greatly missed when a fine animal breaks cover with only a puny pair of horns. There is as great a difference in his appearance as there would be in a life-guardsman in full uniform or in his shirt.

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The antlers of the axis, or spotted deer, are generally longer than those of the elk; they are also more slender and graceful. Altogether, the spotted deer is about the handsomest of that beautiful tribe. A fine spotted stag is the perfection of elegance, color, strength, courage and speed. He has a proud and thorough-bred way of carrying his head, which is set upon his neck with a peculiar grace. Nothing can surpass the beauty of his full black eye. His hide is as sleek as satin - a rich brown, slightly tinged with red, and spotted as though mottled with flakes of snow. His weight is about two hundred and fifty pounds (alive).

It is a difficult thing to judge of a deer's weight with any great accuracy; but I do not think I am far out in my estimation of the average, as I once tried the experiment by weighing a dead elk. I had always considered that a mountain elk, which is smaller than those of the low country, weighed about four hundred pounds when cleaned, or five hundred and fifty pounds live weight. I happened one day to kill an average-sized buck, though with very small horns, close to the road; so, having cleaned him, I sent a cart for his carcase on my return home. This elk I weighed whole, minus his inside, and he was four hundred and eleven pounds. Many hours had elapsed since his death, so that the carcase must have lost much weight by drying; this, with the loss of blood and offal, must have been at least one hundred and fifty pounds, which would have made his live weight five hundred and sixty-one pounds.

Of the five different species of deer in Ceylon, the spotted deer is alone seen upon the plains. No climate can be too hot for his exotic constitution, and he is never found at a higher elevation than three thousand feet. In the low country, when the midday sun has driven every other beast to the shelter of the densest jungles, the sultan of the herd and his lovely mates are sometimes contented with the shade of an isolated tree or the simple border of the jungle, where they drowsily pass the day, flipping their long ears in listless idleness until the hotter hours have passed away. At about four in the afternoon they stroll upon the open plains ,bucks, does and fawns, in beautiful herds; when undisturbed, as many as a hundred together. This is the only species of deer in Ceylon that is gregarious.

Neither the spotted deer, nor the bear or buffalo, is to be found at Newera Ellia. The axis and the buffalo being the usual denizens of the hottest countries, are not to be expected to exist in their natural state in so low a temperature; but it is extraordinary that the bear, who in most countries inhibits the mountains, should in Ceylon adhere exclusively to the low country.

The Ceylon bear is of that species which is to be seen in the Zoological Gardens as the "sloth bear;" an ill-bred-looking fellow with a long-haired black coat and a gray face.


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