Red Deer Antlers
Red deer are ruminants, characterized by a four-chambered stomach. Genetic evidence indicates the red deer as traditionally defined is a species group, rather than a single species, although it remains disputed as to exactly how many species the group includes. The closely related and slightly larger American elk or wapiti, native to North America and eastern parts of Asia, had been regarded as a subspecies of red deer, but recently it has been established as a distinct species. It is probable that the ancestor of all red deer, including wapiti, originated in central Asia and resembled sika deer.
Although at one time red deer were rare in parts of Europe, they were never close to extinction. Reintroduction and conservation efforts, such as in the United Kingdom and in Portugal, have resulted in an increase of red deer populations, while other areas, such as North Africa, have continued to show a population decline.