The Curious Barking Deer
If you are planning a trip to one of Bangladesh’s many national parks, you might want to keep an eye out for the elusive barking deer. These rather shy little creatures live in the dense jungles of India and, although they are quite numerous throughout the region, it is often difficult to spot them because they are quick to scuttle away through the forest undergrowth.
Barking Deer are the oldest known type of deer in the world. The scientific name for this small, intricate creature is ‘Muntjac’ and they fall under the Muntiacus genus. The Muntjac deer are thought to have existed for 15 to 35 million years after fossilized remains were found in France and Germany. Although these relatively small creatures are native to Southeast Asia, they can also be found in England where the Reeve’s Muntjac was introduced centuries ago.
The most common species of Barking Deer in Bangladesh is the Indian Muntjac or Common Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak). Unlike other deer species, the common Barking Deer can mate throughout the year which has helped them to maintain their populations despite being routinely hunted. Male deer grow short antlers and tend to fight with their tusks when exercising dominion over their territory.
The Muntjac Deer has earned the name of ‘barking deer’ because its call sounds very similar to the bark of a dog. The average deer lives between 20 and 30 years and they generally prefer to live in solitude. Sometimes the animal can be seen in pairs and they are usually spotted on the edges of dense forests. Barking Deer are quite short, measuring between 50 to 75 centimeters and they mainly feed on grass and fallen fruits, often enjoying natural salt licks.
These delicate little deer are mostly diurnal in nature. This makes them even harder to spot since they are well camouflaged in their natural habitat under the heavy shadow of nightfall. Their barking alarm call is often sounded when they are startled but is only used repetitively when a predator is spotted. Visitors and eco-tourists will be able to recognize these beautiful creatures by the two raised dark ridges on their foreheads and their easily recognizable bark-like call.