For Deer Watching in Myanmar By Aye Mar Way
It is Myanmar that has a wide variety of ecosystems: plains, mountains, forests, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems. The country is rich in natural resources and enjoys an unusual great diversity of flora and fauna. It provides a home to a large variety of biological species. Very rare species also live in the forests and wetlands including mangroves, swamp forest, lakes, marshes, and seas. Moreover, some new species are still discovered within the country.
In the mammal sector, nearly 300 species have been recorded, but a number of these have not been sighted in recent years, including rhinoceros and Indian water buffalo. There are 47 globally threatened mammal species in the county, five Critically Endangered, 17 Endangered and 25 Vulnerable according to the report – National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2015- 2020). The is also home to at least five endemic mammal species, including Anthony’s pipistrelle, Joffre’s pipistrelle, Myanmar pipistrelle, and the Popa soft-furred rat. Dry mixed deciduous forests in Myanmar are home to the largest remaining population of the endangered Eld’s deer.
Myanmar is a wonderful place for those who want to go watching wildlife tours around the country. For wildlife lovers who want to watch Myanmar wildlife at various destinations such as parks or wildlife reserves or wildlife sanctuaries throughout the country, four kinds of deer species found in Myanmar are presented in this time. These deer species are well-known in Myanmar. They are Eld’s Deer, Sambar Deer, Muntjac and Hog Deer. Besides, the good places to watch these deer species are also expressed.
1. Eld’s Deer
Eld’s deer, known as brow-antlered deer and commonly called as “Shwe Thamin – ေရႊသမင္ (means golden deer)” in Myanmar, is a rare species of deer found throughout mainland Southeast Asia, northeastern India, and southern China.
Especially, the deer’s largest population is in Myanmar and it can be found mostly in Sagaing, Mandalay, Magwe, and Bago re- gions. Primarily, it lives in the Shwesettaw and Chatthin wildlife sanctuaries. Eld’s deer are highly threatened and is included on the IUCN red list as an endangered species. Some said that the deer have reached even Critically Endangered of the list.
It is medium-sized deer and has a regal and graceful physique. Its legs are thin and long with a long body, large head, and a thin neck. The rough and course coat turns from reddish-brown in summer to dark brown in winter. The tail is short in length and the rump has no distinct patch.
2. Sambar Deer
The sambar is a large deer which is native to the Indian subcontinent, Southern China, and Southeast Asia including Myanmar. It is called “Sat – (ဆတ)္ ” in Myanmar. Populations have declined substantially due to severe hunting, insurgency, and industrial exploitation of habitat. Throughout Myanmar, it inhabits tropical forests, deciduous forests, evergreen forests and so on. It prefers the dense cover of deciduous shrubs and grasses. It can be seen in some zoos, animal reserves, and parks throughout Myanmar. Such kind of deer is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2008.
Muntjacs, known as barking deer and Mastreani deer, are small deer of the genus Muntiacus native to South Asia and can be found in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Southern China. In Myanmar, we call it “Che (ေခ်) or Jhe (ဂ်ီ)”. It also can be seen in some places such as zoos, animal reserves, and parks throughout Myanmar. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.
4. Hog Deer
Hog deer is a small deer whose habitat ranges from Pakistan, through northern India, to mainland southeast Asia. It can be found in Pakistan, northern India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. Its Myanmar’s name is “Da-yae – ဒရယ္”. Some news said that a new species of Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) was discovered in the Indawgyi landscape in central Myanmar in 2012. It is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
For those who are interested in deer watching tour in Myanmar, the following places are recommended. In these places, wildlife lovers will be sure to have an amazing time. The good time for deer watching is the period from November to May.
1. Hlawga Wildlife Park (Hlawga National Park)
It is a national park located in Mingaladon Township of Yangon, 22 miles north of Yangon. The 1540-acre park includes an 818-acre wildlife park, a 62-acre mini-zoo, and a 660-acre buffer zone. The habitat is a primarily semi-evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest, swamp forest, and extensive lakes. Within the fenced Hlawga Wildlife Park, one may observe the rare brow-antlered deer, hog deer, barking deer, sambar deer, monkey, jungle cat, and many small mammals. Moreover, there is a range of various kinds of birds, tigers, leopards, bears, and crocodiles in the small zoo.
2. Mount Victoria (Nat Ma Taung National Park)
The highest mountain in Chin State is situated on Himalayas Mountain Range in the western part of Myanmar. With a height of 3,053 m (10,016 ft) above sea level and a prominence of 2,231 m (7,320 ft), Nat Ma Taung is one of the ultra-prominent peaks of Southeast Asia. More than watching barking deer and sambar deer, it is the best site for bird watching. Leopard, clouded leopard, bear, gaur, barking deer, sambar deer, wild boar, wild dog, gibbon, various species of wild cat and many species of small mammals can also be seen in this site. The White-browed nuthatch (Sitta victoriae) is a bird endemic to this mountain range.
3. Indawgyi (lake) Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary
It is a wildlife reserve of Myanmar and is located in Mohnyin Township in Kachin State. The lake lies in a north-south elongated basin with flat plains. The lake is 175 m above sea level and covers 12000 ha which is the largest inland lake of South East Asia and the third largest lake in the world. The eastern side of the lake is mountainous terrain that is rising to 1175 m. The hill to the west and north are more extensive and rising to 1500 m. The total area is 775.25 sq km [299 sq miles] and covers moist upper mixed deciduous and semi-evergreen forests are found on the mountainous terrains. In these forests, we can watch sambar deer and barking deer. Moreover, wild elephant, leopard, bear, gaur, banteng, red goral, gibbon, macaque, wild dog, golden jackal, wild boar, hog badger, civet, and other mammals may be observed. The region is also home to rare bird species. On 18 December 2003, it was recognized as ASEAN Heritage Park.
4. Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park
It is the largest national park in Myanmar with the area of 1,605 sq-km. It is situated in Sagaing Division and lies to the west of Chindwin River. It comprises two reserve forest, Patolon, and Taungdwin. It is also a center of pilgrimage and each year some 30,000 Myanmar pilgrims visit the Buddhist shrine of Maha Kathapa. It belongs to the central mixed deciduous forests that are undisturbed such as moist upper mixed deciduous forest, dry mixed deciduous forest, and low mixed deciduous forest. The virgin indaing (dipterocarp) forest places in the central of the park and the Pine Forest are on the hillsides. Evergreen Forest can be seen along the major streams. One may also see a range of larger animals such as wild elephant, leopard, cloud leopard, gaur, banteng, bear, sambar deer, barking deer, as well as many other small mammals.
5. Mount Kyaiktiyo Wildlife Sanctuary
It is situated in Mon State and is 180.05 sq-km in extent. Mount Kyaiktiyo is mostly famous for its Golden Rock Pagoda at its top, within Kyaikhtiyo Wildlife Sanctuary. In this area, sambar deer, hog deer, barking deer, may be viewed. Bear, monkey, gibbon and other mammals can also be found.
6. Shwe Settaw Wildlife Sanctuary
It is a wildlife reserve and is located in Minbu Township of Magwe Division. It occupies an area of 553 square kilometers (213.4 sq mi). One pay respects and amazing to Buddha’s holy foot and there are two, an upper one and a lower one. Moreover, rare birds, star tortoises, and other mammals can be seen in the place. It is also the home of many golden deer (Eld’s deer).
7. Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary
It is a wildlife reserve of Myanmar. It is located in kanbalu Township in Sagaing Division. It occupies an area of 268.2 square kilometers (103.55 sq mi). Many golden deer (Eld’s deer) can be found in this protected area.
The above mentioned seven places are good to watch deer. Besides, deer can be seen in such places of Meinmahla Kyun (Island) Wildlife Sanctuary in Boglale Township of Ayeyarwaddy Division, Putao (Frot Hertz) Region and Mount Hponkan Razi Wildlife Sanctuary in Kachin State, Popa Mountain Park, and Bagan Lawkananda Sanctuary in Mandalay Region. In some places such as Yan- gon Zoological Garden and Yadanabon Zoological Garden, these species of deer are shown. Wildlife lovers can also watch Myanmar colorful various kinds of birds not only deer and other mammals in these mentioned places.
While visiting around Myanmar for deer watching or bird watching tours, the wildlife lovers can enjoy other tours such as trekking tours, pilgrimage tours, and so on. They can also study the unusual traditional culture, custom, and living system of various ethnic tribes. Moreover, with Myanmar’s long history and its greatness dates back to the early 11th Century, Myanmar is full of stories and heritage places. Myanmar is a perfect place for adventures, explorers and people of all ages. Today is the perfect time to visit Myanmar.