The red deer is known as the king of the park. This is largely due to the majestic appearance of the adult male. With its colossal antlers, strong neck, and dignified stature, the deer certainly has something regal about it.
The park is home to some 200 red deer. The males, known as stags, spend most of the year in groups called herds. The females, known as hinds, also spend the majority of the year in herds, along with their calves and year-old offspring. Hinds do not have antlers.
Red deer are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. Their diet consists of grass, heather, bark, tubers, roots, fruits, seeds, and the buds, shoots, and leaves of trees.
Just before mating season, which starts every September and is also known as the rut, everything changes. The stags leave their herds and head off alone. This change in behaviour is caused by changing hormones. The testosterone coursing through their bodies also leads to physical changes. They become more muscular and grow long hair around their necks.
The solitary stags then go in search of females. Once found, they compete for their attention by roaring. This sounds like a cross between a lion's roar and a bull's bellow and can sometimes lead to quite violent fights between the stags. The larger the harem a stag manages to acquire, the more offspring he will have the following year. The calves are born in late May or early June.
Every September, nature-lovers flock to the park hoping to catch a glimpse of the rituals associated with the rut. The wildlife observation sites are the best spots for this. In September, rut excursions are organized and led by a nature guide.
|Mating season (the rut):
|Approximately 40 weeks
|Number of calves:
|1, sometimes 2
|Name of adult male:
|Name of adult female:
|Name of year-old male:
|Name of year-old female:
|Name of young: