Detectability and activity patterns of sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) in Baw Baw National Park, Victoria

Christopher Davies, Wendy Wright, Fiona E. Hogan, Hugh Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduced sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) are increasing in abundance and distribution across much of south-eastern Australia and causing damage to native ecosystems. However, the current paucity of knowledge surrounding many aspects of sambar deer ecology is limiting our capacity to make informed management decisions, and properly gauge the extent of deer impacts. Here we investigate correlates of sambar deer detectability and describe activity patterns of sambar deer in Baw Baw National Park (BBNP) to inform control operations. Camera traps were deployed in BBNP between October and December 2016. We used an occupancy modelling framework to investigate sambar deer detectability and camera trap record time stamps to determine sambar deer activity patterns. Sambar deer were found to be significantly more detectable near roads and in areas of sparse tree density and displayed strong crepuscular activity patterns. Control operations carried out along roads at dawn and dusk could be effective, at least in the short term. Likewise, aerial culling could be an effective control option for sambar deer populations in BBNP. This study highlights the utility of camera trap data to inform the application of control operations for cryptic invasive species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-320
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Mammalogy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2020


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