Warning blog post contains images of dead animals...
Bit of a strange one today, after receiving a report from a local dog walker via the park ranger that there were two deceased Reeves Muntjac deer on the shore, we couldn't resist the opportunity to document this bizarre occurrence.
Why Bizarre? well first of all Reeves Muntjac Deer are not known on the Island in any great numbers, they are not known as established here, although sightings have been made. So to have two on our shoreline in the same day (albeit dead) is a bit of a rare occurrence.
How did they get here? well only a few weeks ago we saw a photograph of another deer swimming over to the beach here at Fort Victoria, we assumed that one made landfall and dispersed but it looked bigger than a muntjac. The stretch of sea between Fort Victoria and the Mainland is only 1.5 miles and the deer must think its a river and see the trees the other side and believe they can make a swim for it. The other scenario is for some reason these two found themselves in the water the other side, drowned and the tide carried them. Given the evidence for deer swimming over we think the first scenario is the most likely.
Sadly these two didn't make it, upon investigating we could see that one was a young male Muntjac and the other a female. There is often speculation as to how the island could possibly have wild deer, given we have a deer free status.. I think these two have almost proved the point, that had they both made it, we would most certainly had a breeding pair of Reeves Muntjac dispersing into forest in the same location.
About the Reeves Muntjac: The Reeves Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi) is a dwarf species of deer native to China, it was introduced into the UK to Woburn Abbey in the 19th century, subsequent escapes have led to them becoming established in the UK. Since 2019 they have been placed onto the Invasive Alien species list like the terrapins we house in the sanctuary, making it illegal to release them into the wild and can only be kept under licensed conditions.
Why record these sightings, even if they are dead? all sightings of wildlife can be recorded on a website called i-record (https://irecord.org.uk/) . This provides valuable insight into species locations, spread and declines. We think that these records of two muntjacs being found dead on our shore will provide a great insight into just how a non native invasive species had dispersed onto the Isle of Wight.
Images Copyright Isle of Wight Reptilarium, please credit if used in media.