The deer Dama-Dama is a unique species that lives only in Rhodes Greece for many centuries. Many legends say that this deer was brought to Rhodes by the Crusaders in the Medieval times, but according to other sources, they lived there since the ancient times. In fact, Rhodes was called Elafioussa in the antiquity, which means with a lot of deer. The two deer statues that stand in Mandraki Harbor, Rhodes Town, shows that this deer has been the symbol of Rhodes for long.
The deer of Rhodes are medium-sized. They have a perfectly proportionate body and its colors are amazing. Colors vary according to the age and the season of the year. Their stomach is white, but they also have white patches on their body, which are used as a sort of camouflage. Their height can reach 90 cm till the upper part of its part and its weight can be approximately 100 kilos.
The bucks have spectacular symmetrical antlers. Interestingly enough, these antlers fall out every May and again grow back in September. Adult bucks live alone or sometimes can be seen in groups of three to four, whereas the newborns live in herds. The pregnancy of the deer lasts about 8 months and female deer give birth in May. In October, the mother pushes their children to get away and live on their own. The Dama-Dama deer can be spotted in the forests in mainland Rhodes and close to water springs.
According to estimations, there are about 100 to 150 deer at present in Rhodes. The Municipality of Rhodes has taken the initiative to take care about 70 of these animals. The rest has been transported to different parts of Greece and they are found especially in zoos and national reserve parks.
However, the number of these animals is declining due to severe poaching, forest fires or car accidents. As the roads cross their forests, many deer try to cross the road at night and get hit by cars. These deer live mostly in the inland close to Afandou, Archangelos and Lindos, Rhodes island.
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