Feral and Wild Bovine

Belonging to the biological family of Bovidae, the Terran subfamily of Bovinae included almost 140 species. Only a fraction of those were taken to Pern including: bison, water buffalo, antelopes and domestic cattle.

Bovinae and its subspecies are cloven-hoofed, ruminant mammals, the males of which have horns that neither branch nor are shed yearly, but are permanent, growing throughout the animal’s lifespan.

Throughout Pern, bovines are used for food – milked or slaughtered for their meat, to provide clothing – their hide for tanning or hair clipped for use in weaving or stuffing of pillows and mattresses. Feral and wild Bovine are hunted by man and dragon, used to augment herds in feeding grounds and have regularly fallen prey to the wild felines (in the Southern Continent) and wherries (on both continents).

Bovinae are divided into three main groups - Boselaphini, Bovini and Strepsicerotini - and further subdivided into genera.

NOTE: if it is tagged as Wild, the species was transported to Pern from originally wild stock and has never been domesticated. If it is tagged as Feral, the species was once domestic and abandoned in the chaos of the Second Crossing, left in the Southern Continent to adapt and crossbreed at will resulting hybridization between several strains of domestic herdbeast.


Boselaphini

1. Four-Horned Buck - Wild [Group Boselaphini, Genus Tetracerus]

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The Tetracerus, an antelope among the smallest of bovine growing to no larger than 2 ft high at the shoulder and growing to weigh less than 50 lbs. The males are unique for growing four permanant prong-like horns, two between their ears and two further down their forehead. Females have no horns. Both genders grow a soft, light reddish coat with pale underflank and inner legs.

Transported as use for game to Pern where they are known as the Four-Horned buck, released into the wild on the southern continent only. The advent of Thread interrupted plans to establish them in the Northern Continent. Because of their skittish, wild nature, these animals were not transported to the Northern Continent during the Second Crossing, so are only native to the Southern Continent where they thrive in climates ranging from temperate to subtropical to tropical. They inhabit areas of varying elevations containing significant vegetation cover from tall grasses to heavy undergrowth and close to a supply of water, thus are found throught the South from the Eastern Weyr Area, Cove Hold Area, the Xanadu Weyr Area all the way across the continent to the Southern Weyr Area and Ierne.

Shy creatures, they generally stay away from human-inhabited areas and tend to avoid open plains. They are often preyed upon by wild felines and though both humans and dragons enjoy hunting them, these animals are not domesticated.


2. Blue Buck - Wild [Group Boselaphini, Genus Boselaphus]

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The Boselaphus was among one of the largest of the game animals to be transported from Terra to Pern and released onto both northern and southern continents. Known as the blue buck, it is one of the most commonly seen wild bovine of Pern. The mature males have a blue-grey coat and grow a pair of unbranched horns. Does are grey-brown on coloration and do not grow horns.

They range from dry lowland plains to high desert altitudes in the subtropical to temperate climates, hence are not found close to the coastlands of the Southern Sea where it is low-lying and tropical. They avoid dense forest and prefer the plains and low hills with shrubs, so in the southern continent they range further south in the rocky, arid areas beyond Xanadu and Honshu, closer to the foothills of the Southern Barrier Range, in the northern the plains of Telgar and Keroon where dry grasslands and sparse woodlands provide their diet of grasses, leaves, buds, and fruit.


Bovini

The Bovini group includes both large domesticated animals of great economic significance to humans in Domestic Cattle, Domestic buffalo, and the Yak, as well as smaller Asian relatives, and wild bovids such as the African Buffalo and the American Bison.


1. River Bovine – Feral [Group Bovini, Genus Bubalus]

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A large bovine used primarily as a burdenbeast on Terra and brought to Pern as use for meat, milk, draft and pack animals, the ones taken to the northern continent are all domestic. During the Second Crossing some escaped and some were left behind to fend for themselves, so on the southern continent these species are also feral.

These animals are very large, weighing up to 2000 pounds primarily black with large widely curving horns. They are adapted well to tropical and sub-tropical wetlands, primarily keep to low-lying river deltas, between the headlands that form the boundary of the bay between Ierne and the low-country rivers along the tropical southern continent from Southern Weyr, to the north of Xanadu Weyr and range far as Eastern Weyr.

If left alone, they will spend much of the day submerged in the water, lying on the muddy bottoms with only their heads above the water. Docile and gentle, they are easy to work with; children can and often do handle them. River Bovine cannot be herded but will naturally follow their handler, even without a leadrope.


2. Forest Bucks - Feral [Group Bovini, Genus Bubalus]

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Forest bucks were brought to Pern for use as a wild game animal and later rounded up to stock Weyrs feeding pens. Less than 3 feet tall at the shoulder they are similar in appearance to a deer, weighing roughly 330–660 pounds.

They can be found in the undisturbed rainforest, lowland forests and wetlands of both the Southern and Northern Continents in South Boll, Nerat, Ista, Eastern Weyr and Southern Weyr areas browsing on plants and understory leaves. Forest bucks are usually solitary, or live in pairs, rather than in herds like most cattle, except when the cows are about to give birth.


3. Dwarf River Bovine - Feral [Group Bovini, Genus Bubalus]

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Smaller and stockier compared to the domesticated River Bovine, Dwarf River Bovine are compact and heavyset, with dark brown to grayish hair, cloven hooves and a small, horned head at the end of a short neck. Both sexes grows short black horns in a V-shape and have a pair of gray-white strips that begin from the inner corner of the eye to the base of their horns.

The dwarf riverbeast prefers tropical highland forests and thick brush, mountainous terrain near open-canopied glades where it may graze and feed on grasses. They are never far from sources of water. Adults do not live in herds, but are solitary. The Ancients apparently left some of these on the Western Isles and abandoned them due to Thread. Due to its isolation, this species did not hybridize and consequently are only found on the Western Isles.


4. Curledhorn Bovine – Feral [Group Bovini, Genus bos] (Wild cousin to the Bighorn Beast)

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Strong and massively built, weighing 1,400 to 2,200 pounds, the Curledhorn Bovine is the largest species of wild bovine, bigger than its domecticated cousin, the Bighorn Bovine. Curledhorn Bovine were Bighorn Bovine that were abandoned when Thread threatened the southern continent, became feral and hybridized through inbreeding. They prefer evergreen forests or semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests and hilly terrain below an altitude of 5,000 to 6,000 ft. Thus they are found in temperate areas of the southern continent in Xanadu’s forests and close to the Southern Barrier Range where they can readily find availability of water, and an abundance of grass, shrubs, and trees. Curledhorn Bovine live in small herds of eight to eleven individuals, one of which is a bull. Adult males may be solitary.

Curledhorn Bovine are very timid and shy. When alarmed, they crash into the jungle at a surprising speed. However, where they are used to the presence of humans, they can be very bold and aggressive. They are frequently known to go into fields and graze alongside domestic cattle, sometimes killing them in fights. Bulls may charge unprovoked, especially during summer, when the heat and parasitic insects make them more short-tempered than usual. To warn other members of its herd of approaching danger, the Curledhorn Bovine may emit a high whistle.


5. Bosshorn Bovine - Wild [Group Bovinae, Genus Syncerus]

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Contrary to popular belief, the Bosshorn is not the ancestor of domestic herdbeast, and is only distantly related to other larger bovines and was never domesticated. This enormous bovine was too aggressive to be transported North when the Ancients removed to the Northern Continent. A robust species, it can grow as large as 5.6 ft high at the shoulder and 11 ft in length weighing up to a ton making them the stockiest of bovine.

Most have black or dark brown coats that darken with age, though some can be reddish in color. The horns curve back and slightly up. In males they are fused at the base forming a continuous bone shield across the top of their heads referred to as a "boss", which is where they get their name. There is no weapon that can penetrate the bony shield.

Keeping to herds, the Bosshorn lives in the swamps, floodplains, grasslands and forests of the sub-tropical areas of the Southen Continent, preferring habitat with dense cover, such as reeds and thickets, grazing on grass and shrubs. It is extremely aggressive, short-tempered and apt to charge when they percieve a threat. They are a formidable foe of wild felines, often fighting back when threatened by them. These bovine are not rounded up or keps in feeding pens as they are quite dangerous. They are hunted and killed in the wild at great risk to both humans and dragons alike.


6. Bison – Wild [Group Bovinae, Genus Bison]

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More closely related to the ox and the wisent (the European bison), the North American Bison was brought to Pern for use as wild game. Too wild to attempt transporting to the Northern Continent in the Second Crossing, this species has flourished in the southern continent and kept to their own kind, not crossbreeding

Bison have a shaggy, long, dark brown winter coat, shedding this for a lighter weight, lighter brown summer coat. Standing up to 6 ft high at the shoulder, they can grow up to 11.5 ft long while the weight can reach well over a ton. It is one of the largest wild species of bovid on Pern, surpassed by only the Curledhorn and Boshorn.

Preferring the vast open inland grassy plains, Bion are migratory, moving north with the summer and south with the winter. Bison graze on grasses and sedges, ranging from the foothills to the Southern Barrier Range between the Sea of Azov and Drake’s Lake, from Honshu to Xanadu as far as the edges of the temperate climate at the northern reaches of the southern grasslands.

Strepsicerotini

Members of the Strepsicerotini tribe are spiral-horned antelopes that were found only on the Terran continent of Africa, transported to Pern and released into the wild on both the Northern and Southern Continents for use as game animals. Known as ‘Bucks’ on Pern, where they are hunted, used for meat or penned for feeding grounds, this group tends to be large in size, a lighter build, longer necks and exhibit considerable differences between the males and females of the species.

Strepsicerotini are further divided inyo two subgroups: Genus Tragelaphus and Genus Taurotragus.


Genus Tragelaphus

1. Striped Buck - Wld [Group Strepsicerotini, Genus Tragelaphus]

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One of the largest of the forest antelopes, the Striped Buck can reach 4.3 ft at the shoulder and 10.3 ft in length weighing up to 890 lbs. Their coats are vary from a rich chestnut to deep sable color with distinctive white stripes on their sides. Both sexes have heavy spiral horns—those of the male are longer and more massive. They are the only Tragelaphid in which both sexes have horns.

Males, called bulls, tend to be solitary while females with young live in groups of 6 to 8. They prefer the dense, deeply-shaded glades of the tropical forest found close to Eastern Weyr, Southern Weyr and Ierne in the south and Boll, Nerat and Ista in the North. Colonists of the Western Isles transported several pairs there where this species flourish in the wild. Although mostly nocturnal, they are occasionally active during the day, feeding on tree and shrub leaves, vines, bark and pith of rotting trees, grasses, herbs, roots, grains and fruits. They require salt in their diet, and are known to regularly visit natural salt licks.


2. Corkscrew Buck – Wild [Group Strepsicerotini, Genus Tragelaphus]

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Corkscrew Bucks have a narrow body with long legs, and their coats can range from brown/bluish-grey to reddish-brown. They possess between 4–12 vertical white stripes along their torso. The head tends to be darker in color than the rest of the body, and exhibits a small white chevron which runs between the eyes.

Their habitat includes thick brushland, rocky hillsides, dry riverbeds and anywhere with a constant supply of water. Nocturnal, they tend to curl up in the shade during the day. Their diet consists of leaves, grass, shoots and occasionally tubers, roots and fruit (they are especially fond of oranges and tangerines). The Northern Continent range of the Corkscrew Buck extends from the upper Keroonian dry plains to the edges of Benden, Bitra, Lemos and Telgar and the Igen Platuau. In the Southern Continent their range extends from the rocky plains south of Cove Hold, Eastern Weyr, Xanadu Weyr, Honshu, around the Sea of Azov and Drake’s Lake to the foothills of the Soutern Barrier Range.


3. Bushbuck – Wild [Group Strepsicerotini, Genus Tragelaphus]

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The Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) is a small to medium sized antelope widespread in the vast inland plains of the Southern Continent.

It is common across this broad geographic distribution and is found in wooded savannas, forest-savanna mosaics, penetrating into some of the rain forest zones Eastern Weyr, Southern Weyr and the coastal regions near Ierne. It does not occur in the deep rain forests of the tropics, but does inhabit the semi-arid zones of the Southern lowlands of the Bollian Peninsula and the Igen Plateau.


Genus Taurotragus

Spiral-Horned Buck – wild [Group Strepsicerotini, Genus Taurotragus]

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Living up to 25 years in the wild, the Spiral-Horned Buck is the largest species of antelope in the Bovidae world, with the males larger than the females, standing nearly 6 ft at the shoulder with a body length of up to 12 ft long weighing up to 2,200 lbs (over a ton), comparable to the Bison and Bosshorn in size. Both sexes have tightly spiraled, 'V'-shaped horns between their large ears that can grow up to 4 ft long on males and about half that on females. The bridge of the nose is charcoal black, and there is a thin, indistinct tan-colored line in a chevron-shape between the eyes.

The smooth coat, which darkens with age and rutting in the males, varies from sandy brown to reddish-brown and sable, usually darker in males than females, with 8–12 well-defined vertical white stripes on the torso. A crest of short black hair extends down the neck to the middle of the back, and is especially prominent on the shoulders. A pendulous dewlap, larger in males than females, originates from between the jowls and hangs to the upper chest when they reach sexual maturity. The tail is long, having a dark tuft of hair at the end. The slender legs are slightly lighter on their inner surfaces, with black and white markings just above the hooves.

Spiral-Horned Bucks are nomadic, migrating seasonally in small herds of 15–25 consisting of both males and females. They prefer open forest savannah, broad-leafed woodlands and glades as well as on the fringes of deserts and rocky hills in the sub-tropical regions in the Southern Continent. They feed on grasses, leaves and branches of trees and shrubs. Elusive, agile creatures, they were forgotten until Avias was discovered and the archives read. Recently rediscovered, efforts are underway to transplant this species in the Northern Continent.

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