The “sore” spot
Many times when I am on safari in the forests of India, I hear someone exclaim, usually in alarm, that there is a wounded deer over there. 99% of the time this ends up being a Sambar with a large open sore oozing blood on the ventral surface of the neck. This is a common sight, but despite that, scientists do not know what it is, or why it happens! It is always visible but is most obvious and ‘oozy’ in the rutting season, from November to December. Because of this seasonal fluctuation, it is thought to be some kind of gland, and the ooze coming out of it is not actually blood but a fluid that may act as some kind of pheromone. It is a still a mystery, and not one is entirely sure what it is, what it is for and why it happens. It is important to note it is present on both male and female deer.
After many attempts, I managed to get a clean shot of the sore spot on this doe. It is out of season and not oozing, but is still very pronounced.
The sambar is a large deer native to the Indian subcontinent, South China, and Southeast Asia that is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List since 2008. Populations have declined substantially due to severe hunting, insurgency, and industrial exploitation of habitat.