Red brocket (Mazama americana)

Spanish: Corzuela Colorado, Corzuela Roja
GenusMazama (1)
SizeLength: 1.2 m (2)
Average weight: 20 – 55 kg (3)

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1). Subspecies Mazama americana cerasina is listed on Appendix III of CITES in Guatemala (4).

The red brocket is the largest of all brocket deer, and also has the greatest range (3). Named for its foxy red coat, this stout-bodied deer with slender limbs has white fur on the inside of the legs, throat, lips, inner part of the ear and the lower part of the tail (3). Young red brockets have whitish spots on their coat (2). Like the majority of deer species (5), male red brockets have antlers, but they are generally only short, dagger-like spikes. These antlers can be shed at any time of the year, and may be kept for over one year (3). Fourteen subspecies of the red brocket are currently recognised (3).

Occurs in Central and South America, from eastern Mexico and Trinidad south to northern Argentina (6) (7).

Brocket deer usually inhabit forests and woodlands from sea level up to 5,000 metres (7). The red brocket appears to prefer fairly dry or moist habitats and generally avoids very wet, flooded areas (6).

This shy, seldom seen deer is generally solitary or occasionally seen in pairs (6) (7). It feeds predominantly on fruit when available, but will turn to a diet of leaves during periods when fruit is scarce (2) (6). Fungi may also constitute an important part of its diet during the wet season (2). When they sense danger, red brockets have a habit of freezing (7), but they can also run with a leaping gait and, being capable swimmers, will readily take to the water to escape a predator (2) (3). Their dagger-like antlers also makes them capable of damaging combat (3).

Calving may take place year round (3) (7), although in some areas there is a peak, such as in Surinam where it mainly takes place from September to April (6). The gestation period is long, lasting from 218 to 228 days (3), and a single young is produced (2). The young deer, which lose their spots after two or three months, mature rapidly and may breed by the age of just 11 months (3). In captivity, an individual lived for over 16 years (7).

Although the status of most red brocket subspecies is unknown (6), it is clear that in some areas this species faces threats. The red brocket is hunted for meat throughout much of its range, both for subsistence and for sale, with its meat being found extensively in markets of the larger cities of the Amazon Basin (6). Brocket deer are also hunted by people because of the damage they can do to bean and corn crops (7). In certain areas, such as the densely populated areas of the Amazonian region of Peru, the red brocket deer has been reportedly overhunted, while in others, such as Costa Rica, Paraguay and Venezuela, habitat destruction also threatens this species (6). A combination of hunting and habitat destruction may have caused the red brocket to disappear from El Salvador altogether (7).

The red brocket occurs in numerous protected areas throughout its range (6). The IUCN has been unable to determine the conservation status of this species due to a lack of data, and have therefore classified it as Data Deficient (1). Therefore, research is clearly needed to determine the status of each subspecies, and surveys, ecological studies and investigations into the human use of red brocket have all been suggested (6).

For further information on deer conservation see:

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  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2007)
  2. Eisenberg, J.F. and Redford, K.H. (2000) Mammals of the Neotropics: Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  3. Geist, V. (1999) Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behaviour, and Ecology. Swan Hill Press, Shrewsbury, England.
  4. CITES (June, 2008)
  5. Geist, V. (2001) Deer. In: Macdonald, D.W. (Ed) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Wemmer, C. (1998) Deer. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Deer Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.
  7. Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.