Does Manipur Deer Exude a Leech Repellant?


Does Manipur Deer Exude a Leech Repellant?

My father T. H. Tehsin shot a number of Sambars and Manipur Deers or Thamin (Cervus eldi) in northeast India in the 1930s. One aspect of his observation is particularly interesting. The habitat of Thamin is full of leaches.

 
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Does Manipur Deer Exude a Leech Repellant?My father T. H. Tehsin shot a number of Sambars and Manipur Deers or Thamin (Cervus eldi) in northeast India in the 1930s. One aspect of his observation is particularly interesting. The habitat of Thamin is full of leaches.

He found a large number of leeches on the carcasses of Sambars he had shot, but none at all on Thamins he shot in the same locality. He inferred that the Thamin exudes a chemical repellent (possibly salt), which keeps leaches at bay.

There are plans by conservation authorities to build up the wild population of the endangered Thamin by releasing captive animals. Due to long isolation from their natural habitat the leech repellent mechanism in captive Thamin may have atrophied. Before releasing captive animals, this aspect should be studied in more detail.

Published in Journal of Bombay Natural History Society:

Tehsin, R. H. (1992) Does The Manipur Deer (Cervus eldi) Exude A Leech Repellent? J. Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 89(2): 245

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