When personnel from Taitung Forest District Office’s Dawu Ranger Station went deep into the mountains to work on the morning of March 25 they heard a pack of dogs barking. When they went to investigate they saw a Formosan Sambar Deer, a protected species, stood in the middle of the fast flowing river, with three dogs barking wildly at it from the river bank. The dogs ran away when they saw people approach, while the deer, seeing the danger had passed, made its way calmly to the bank and went back into the forest.
Director of Taitung Forest District Office’s Dawu Station Wu Wen-hsiung said that, when he led a group of workers on the morning of the 25th into Dawushan Nature Reserve and they had reached the banks of the Dachu River, just as they were checking patrol boxes they suddenly heard dogs barking wildly. When they went to look, they saw three fierce dogs, one black and two yellow, looking like they were ready to pounce; and, in the middle of the river was a sambar giving out an “ao ao” call. The dogs dared not enter the water because of its fast flow. Wu said that they were around 300 meters away from the sambar and, when the dogs noticed that people were approaching, they ran away. There were no other people around. The sambar was left standing in the middle of the fast flowing river. As they drew nearer, seeing that the dogs had gone, the sambar slowly climbed up the bank and unhurriedly walked into the forest.
Taitung Forest District Office said that sambar like to feed near and soak in water and also like to swim, which is why they are called “water deer” in Chinese. This sambar was a large buck with two big antlers. It probably ended up in the water after being chased by the dogs. Luckily for the deer, the barking of the dogs attracted the attention of the workers from Dawu Station who scared the dogs away and allowed it to escape. The incident followed the freeing of a Formosan Serow that had been caught in a snare on Anshuo Mountain in early March and was the second time that workers from Dawu Station have shown mercy and compassion for animals in distress in less than a month.
The protected Formosan sambar is classed as a Rare and Valuable Species in Taiwan and there is only a limited number of it in the wild. Taitung Forest District Office called on the public to not hunt the sambar to avoid breaching Article 11 of the Wildlife Conservation Act under which a prison sentence of 6 months to five years can be imposed as well as a fine of NT$200,000 to 1 million. Mountain residents are also asked to keep their dogs under control and to not take dogs into mountain areas to avoid spreading parasites or diseases to wild animals, affecting the health of wild animals in mountain areas.