Late at night it sounds like someone is being murdered. The noise carries in the darkness, loud and clear but haunting and disturbing. This is the call of the muntjac deer sometimes known as the barking deer. The bark is either a call to identify their location, a challenge to intruders or as a warning signal. Either way, these solitary and secretive mammals make a lot of noise when they want to.
The English population is the Reeves’s muntjac, (Muntiacus reevesi) or Chinese muntjac are all descendants of the 1925 escapees from Woburn Abbey.
They are native to South Asia and the tropical climate in this part of the world means that they have developed to breed throughout the year. There is no rutting season for these docile and timid deer. However, their ability to breed throughout the year has seen a prolific growth in their population. These small deer are also different from native deer in the UK as they do not destroy crops or woodland.
Whilst waiting for ospreys in Rutland the buck wandered past the hide, keeping close to the hedge line before disappearing. He was small – about the same size as a dog with small antlers and a distinct ‘v’ shape on his face. He also had small tusks, barely visible, but there! He was followed about an hour later by the doe, who was more timid and slipped gently into the shadows almost as quickly as she had appeared. These are solitary mammals, there aren’t huge herds wandering the countryside so seeing them is not always easy.
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