May 25, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Creation of parks to protect the emblematic deer of Rhodes

The Greek Ministry of the Environment and local authorities have decided to create parks to protect deer on the island of Rhodes. According to the University of Thessaloniki, the number of deer in Rhodes is 6284, local residents speak of a much larger but unspecified number.

According to a joint decision of the Ministry of Environment, the Regional Government of the South Aegean Islands and the Municipality of Rhodes, “Five deer parks will be created in Rhodes to protect the animal population and save the primary sector from the damage they cause”Deputy Governor of the Primary Sector Filimonas Zannetidis told the state news agency amna.

The areas in which the parks will be located will be announced soon, but according to available information they will include areas in the area of ​​the Gaduras Dam, Southern Rhodes, Psinthos or Apollo and other places.

The deer in the parks will be fed and watered, they will be visited, the parks will be environmentally friendly, offering jobs as needed from an environmental point of view, so that the life of the deer, this emblematic animal of Rhodes, is not interrupted,” emphasized Zannetidis.

At the same time, he added that “these shots must stop, along with the numerous road accidents, the deaths in the fences must stop, while the priority, says the island’s economy, is our farmers and livestock breeders who have suffered.”

The fight to save the Rhodes deer

The Rhodes Deer, a unique animal in need of protection

In 2005 it was announced that the Rhodes Hind (Dama dama) genetically distinct from all other European populations and in urgent need of conservation. After the devastating fires in Rhodes in the summer of 2023, when deer lost their natural habitat and moved into populated areas in search of food, local residents, and especially hunters, wanted to obtain a license to get rid of the “overpopulated” animals causing damage.

But even before the fires, in May 2022, the mayor of Rhodes proposed to massively destroy “extra” deer. The plan was not implemented because environmental groups accused him of using data that had no scientific basis.

Although a study by the University of Thessaloniki puts the number of deer on the island at 6,284, locals estimate the actual number is much higher, perhaps more than double, amna reports.

Stray sheep and goats

Along with deer overpopulation, local authorities have also discussed the island’s large number of “sheep and goats unattended.” “The situation cannot continue, urgent measures must be taken because the areas are abandoned and people no longer want to deal with the primary sector. The damage from this is not decreasing, it is enormous, and the producers have still not received compensation.”noted Zannetidis.

Regarding sheep and goats, there are thoughts “create more teams to catch stray animals, deliver them to slaughterhouses and distribute their meat among socially active institutions.”

Five parks will protect thousands of deer

Rhodes Stag (Greek platoni) is the symbol of the island. This is one of the few species that has survived in Europe to this day. In summer, it is characterized by a brown spotted color, which darkens significantly by winter. The tail of the animal reaches 16-19 cm (colored black on top), the average length of the body is from 1.60 to 1.90 m, the height of the deer is approximately 1 m, weight is from 40 to 80 kg. Interestingly, the entrance to the old port of the city is decorated with two steles topped with statues of a deer and a doe. On the island you can hear many legends telling about the appearance of deer on the island.

Some of them claim that deer were brought to the island by the Crusaders. In ancient texts the island is referred to as “Ophiusa”, which means inhabited by many snakes. Based on the above theory, in order to protect their military camps from snakes, the Crusaders brought deer to the island. Although these noble animals do not hunt reptiles, according to some versions, their horns secrete a certain substance (possibly alkali), the smell of which repels snakes. Some of the deer escaped into the forests and formed a population.

The second theory is that the deer were introduced by the Italians during the occupation. However, other ancient texts call the island “Elaphusa” (Greek elaphi – deer, approx. transl.), which means that deer existed on the island already in those days. Archaeological research also confirms the existence of deer in the Eastern Mediterranean as early as the 6th millennium BC.

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