Watch Barking Deer @ Khao Yai

Let's face it, watching wild species in their natural environment is always a challenge. There is a certain amount of fieldcraft involved and to be honest sheer luck in arriving at a situation where both the species your trying to observe and you are in the right place at the right time, or should I say - the same place at the same time.

Therefore getting up in the morning and deciding that your going to go and watch some rare species can often lead to a whole lot of disappointment. I've known this since I first started watching nature seriously in my early teens. I then spent some time analysing why we enjoy watching nature, and concluded that the enjoyment primarily comes from getting out and being at one with nature and from watching beautiful creatures going about their daily lives. 

The adrenaline rush of finding something rare or watching some incredible behaviour that most people will never see apart from on natural history documentaries is obviously a factor, but it isn't the be all and end all of the pastime.

This led me into appreciating the beauty of commoner species and let's be honest rarity and beauty have no connection i.e. a Chaffinch, which is a very common bird in the UK is a lot prettier than the what can only be described as ugly- Wryneck, which is a very rare British member of the woodpecker family.

I then started looking at my hobby differently, I started planning days out based on habitat and what I would probably see, then everything 'special' was a bonus, as opposed to going for the rarity and being disappointed when only seeing the commoner species.

So for this feature I've decided to apply the same principle and focus on the common Barking Deer or Muntjak in Khao Yai. The reason being that firstly they are a beautiful graceful animal and secondly I defy anyone to go to the national park and not see one, they are everywhere, especially all around the visitor centre and near any of the build up areas of the park such as the lodging area and the camping area. 

They are also commonly seen feeding on the grasslands which the long windy road from the northern entrance to the park opens out onto after you've finished the steep climb up it.

Barking Deer which are also known as Muntjacs and Mastreani deer, are a small deer of the genus Muntiacus. They are the oldest known deer, thought to have begun appearing 15–35 million years ago, with remains found in Miocene deposits in France, Germany and Poland.

The present-day species are native to South Asia and can be found in Sri Lanka, Southern China, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Burma India and Indonesian islands. Inhabiting tropical regions, the deer have no seasonal rut and mating can take place at any time of year; this behaviour is retained by populations introduced to temperate countries. 

Males have short antlers, which can regrow, but they tend to fight for territory with their "tusks" (downward-pointing canine teeth).

While your out there enjoying the deer keep your eyes peeled, the grasslands I mentioned are also a great place to see wild Asian Elephants, they normally follow the tree lines or are just inside the trees but I have seen them decide to cross between the two forests and take a gentle stroll across the grasslands, over the road and then on to the opposite forest. This is obviously a much rarer site, but if you go for the deer you won't be disappointed and if a lone elephant or two decide to cross your path it will be a nice 'bonus'.

The area is also great for watching White-throated Kingfishers and Blue Rock Thrushes, especially around the lake.


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