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Flora and Fauna

* 5 Jun 2022
Sangai, the State animal of Manipur is a medium-sized deer, with uniquely distinctive antlers, with extremely long brow tine, which form the main beam. The forward protruding beam appears to come out from the eyebrow. This signifies its name, brow-antlered deer. The sexes are moderately dimorphic in body size and weight. The tail is short and rump patch is not pronounced. It has a dark reddish brown winter coat, which turns paler in summer. The females fawn all year round. The deer walks on the hind surface of its pasterns with mincing hops over floating foliage, and is hence also called the Dancing Deer.
The brow-antlered deer is found in Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur. It is largely seen over the floating biomass, locally called “phumdi” in the South Eastern part of Loktak Lake inside the park. The park covers an area of 40 sq km and the home range of the deer in the park is confined to 15-20 sq km. Phumdi is the most important and unique part of Sangai's habitat. It is the floating mass of entangled vegetation formed by the accumulation of organic debris and biomass with soil. Its thickness varies from few centimeters to two meters. It floats with 4/5 part under water.
Sangai was believed to be almost extinct by 1950, but six individuals were spotted in 1953 and the State of Manipur has protected the species to increase the population to 204. Sangai faces threat from steadily degenerating habitat of phumdi as a result of continuous inundation and flooding caused due to artificial reservoir. Water quality of the reservoir is degrading due to pollution and stoppage of nutrient supply. There is also invasion of non-native plants like Paragrass. There has been decrease in area of phumdi from 31.60 km2 in 1993 to 23.72 km2 in 2010. Sangai also faces threats of diseases from the livestock, inbreeding depression and poaching.