Which Indian state is the only home of the brow-antlered deer sangai?

The Manipur brow-antlered deer (Racervus eldii eldii) is locally known as sangai. It is a sub-species of the Eld’s deer found in Asia. Though Eld’s deer are found in other parts of the world too, sangai is found only in Manipur listed as endangered in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, its habitat in Manipur is the Keibul Lamjao National park Covering an area of about 40 sq. km. the Park is located on one end of the Loktak Lake The animals have adapted themselves to a life on floating meadows – called phumdis in the Lake. Interestingly, sangai is also called the dancing deer because of the way it delicately hops between the phumdis. Not surprisingly, it is the State animal of Manipur.

Sangai facts

  • A medium-sized animal, the brow-antlered deer gets its name from its antlers that seemingly emerge from its eyebrows. The mammal has a small tail, and a dark reddish brown coat in winter, the coat gets lighter in summer.
  • The deer’s habitat varies from scrubland and grassland to dry forests and marshland, depending on the country they’re found in. In India, however, these animals inhabit the regions in and around the Loktak Lake.
  • When there’s flooding, apparently, the deer population leaves the phumdis and moves to the hillocks nearby
  • The un-submerged area of the Park has tall grasses and shrubs, some of which are food for sangai.


In the mid-20th Century, sangai was on the brink of extinction. However, a few individuals were spotted, and thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers today are said to be over a 100, at least. While this is a comforting story, the mammal continues to face several challenges. Foremost is the water pollution in the region. As the water in the Lake gets more and more polluted, the quality and thickness of the phumdis are affected. When phumdis get thinner it becomes difficult for the sangai deer to move from one place to another. In fact, it is said that the total area of the phumdis has been decreasing over the decades. A recent study has said that agriculture practices and newer human settlements in the region too are a threat to phumdis. According to media reports as recent as 2020, “unchecked growth of two perennial aquatic weeds – water hyacinth and para grass in the famous fresh water lake of Loktak in Moirang in Manipur is posing a major threat to sangai The increasing abundance of these weeds has reduced space for indigenous plants the sangai feeds on. For a subspecies already plagued by limited space and numbers, the possibility of in-breeding, and infection due to livestock, such challenges make them even more vulnerable. This could drive them toward extinction all over again, undoing decades of conservation effort.


Picture Credit : Google