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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

MUIRHEAD'S MYSTERIES: Deer in Hong Kong


The deer fauna of Hong Kong may be somewhat more complicated than modern zoologists have led us to believe. An early (i.e. c. 1910) Hong Kong wildlife book, possible by Bunbury or Skertchly, I can`t quite remember , mention two species in the then British colony, one the hog deer (Axis porcinus, type species India, Bengal) and another,perhaps the muntjac there now. One of the species was at Castle Peak in the western New Territories.

In the 1860s, axis deer were introduced to the island of Molokai, Hawaii, as a gift from Hong Kong to King Kamehameha V. Today the deer are found plentiful on Lanai, another of the Hawaiian Islands. The Paniolos (cowboys) were instructed to lasso the deer from Molokai and to bring them for shipping to Lanai. Hawaii wildlife officials believe people have flown the deer via helicopter and transported them by boat onto the island. (1) 

According to Introduced Mammals of the World `Axis deer `(Chital) from India have been introduced and established in the Hawaiian islands (Gottschalk 1967; Tomich 1969.) In 1867, seven axis (three males and four males) were shipped to the reigning monarch of Hawaii as a gift from his envoy in Japan. Some of these came from the Upper Ganges River.India, but some died on the voyage and were replaced at Hong Kong with animals of unknown origin (2) [Emphasis my own.]


In Martin  Booth`s book  `Gweilo: Memoirs of a Hong Kong Childhood`(2004)  small red deer are reported from southern Hong Kong island. These we probably muntjacs.  Jon told me on June 8th that within the last 10 years some have come to believe that there are two species of muntjac in Hong Kong, Reeves muntjac and the Indian muntjac. This is interesting given the possible importation during the days of the East India Company (1600-1874)  of the axis deer (see above) or Chital deer from India,Bangladesh,Sri Lanka,Nepal or Bhutan to Hong Kong sometime between the early 1840s and 1860s. This is my theory anyway. The image  is of a chital, found in the Hong Kong newspaper The Star on July 29th 1977. There was a small herd of the deer on Lantau island then. So was there a continual population overlooked in Hong Kong for about 100 years?

This 1977 story mentioned a virus or “mysterious disease which has owners [ of Ng Villa] Mr Luk Chi-wok and his wife baffled”(3) The Lantau Agricultural and Fisheries Department refused to help.


  1. Wikipedia
  2. Long J. Introduced Mammals of the World (2003)
  3. The Star (Hong Kong)  July 29th 1977

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