The Muntjac Deer is the oldest species of deer, first appearing some 15,000,000 years ago in the area spanning France through Poland (male Muntjacs have tusks to this day). Today, they are indigenous to Asia, with various species of Muntjac appearing in most Asian countries from Sri Lanka, through India, the Himalayas into China and Japan.
About 115 years ago (give or take) the Duke of Bedford imported some to England for his deer park at Woburn Abbey. Some escaped in the mid-1920s and the Muntjac spread … rapidly. They don’t have a rutting season, being tropical in origin; they mate all year. By 2007, Muntjac were in all areas of England and Wales, and are now spreading into Scotland and, with a little help from humanity, the Republic of Ireland. They will soon be the most populous species of deer in the British Isles.
They are shy creatures, almost never seen in the open except at dusk and dawn, and then they stay close to cover. They are rarely seen. One evening last year, I looked out my living room window and immediately ran for my camera. The pictures are a bit soft, as they were taken in rather a hurry, through glass, but they tell a lovely story of a rare sighting.
Sensing no danger, she decides to cut across the lawn.
It all took about three minutes and I’ve never seen one again. I keep my eyes open, however, for another glimpse of this gentle and shy creature.