Our Animals - Reeves Muntjac
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The Formosan Reeves' Muntjac (Muntiacus reevesi ), or just Reeves' Muntjac, is a muntjac species found in Taiwan, in Fujian, and Zhejiang, China, and in Boso Peninsula and Oshima Island, Japan. They have also been introduced in the Netherlands , England and more recently Ireland. It feeds on herbs, blossoms, succulent shoots, and grasses and nuts. It takes its name from John Reeves, who was appointed Assistant Inspector of Tea for the British East India Company in 1812.
The muntjac grows to 0.95 m (37 inches) in length, and weighs between 10 and 18 kg (22-40 pounds) when fully grown. The male has short antlers, usually four inches or less, and uses them to push enemies off balance so he can wound them with his upper two inch Canine teeth. This small deer is also called the barking deer.
Introduction into England
An unspecified species of muntjac was introduced to the grounds of Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire in the nineteenth century by the then Duke of Bedford. While a small number are reported as escaping, it is extremely unlikely that they are the source of the current UK population. Larger numbers of muntjac escaped from Whipsnade Zoo, and they are the more likely ancestors, in addition to other releases.
Since the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it has been illegal to release the species except where already established. Muntjac colonies exist throughout England south of Derbyshire, and the population continues to grow. Small groupings of muntjacs have been seen in large urban parks in the Islington, Highgate, East Ham, Finchley and Greenwich areas of London, cemeteries and parks in the Reading area, the Headington Hill area outside of Oxford, Epping Forest in Essex, and in Warwickshire and Birmingham. It is thought that they will soon become the UK's most numerous deer.