Archives for the month of: July, 2017

Nighttime in the forests of Taiwan is velvety dark. Mysterious cries float through the leaves and massive tree trunks. A myriad of frogs, insects, and night birds croak, sing, and chirp. Giant flying squirrels cheep to each other in the canopy. And then you hear it: A sharp, echoing bark! Is it a dog?

Barking Deer in Fushan Forest

A tiny doe licking her fur to complete her evening grooming routine.

No, it’s Taiwan’s barking deer — English call them muntjac (latin name, muntiacus reevesi). These terrier sized deer have little antlers and fangs, apparently for fighting to maintain territory. The image above was taken by me in Fushan Experimental Forest; the image below is from mammals.biodiversityireland.ie.

Muntjac

Male showing antlers and canine teeth.

These deer, called Shan Xiang in Mandarin, used to be favored prey of Taiwan’s indigenous hunters who used bow and arrow, and nets. Japanese logging at the turn of the century, farming, and development have reduced the forest-meadow interface that these animals prefer. They are protected now.

But the deer could be making a comeback. During my travels I heard them barking in several nighttime forests and as you can see above, I spotted little does grazing and grooming in the evening and morning. Also, indigenous farmers mentioned that Shan Xiang will sneak into gardens that are located near forest edges. I hope this charming Taiwanese animal continues to survive and thrive!

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This perfectly captures the quirky nature of Taiwan’s street culture: old dudes on their trusty bikes (Rocinantes!) making their way through life’s traffic…

Guest House Zoar

It always come to my mind the image of Don Quixote when I see old men riding their bikes. The bikes are their imaginary horses, the wrecked thin old horses, knowing their masters so well that no words are necessary between them.

To watch Don Quixote(s) and their bikes passing through the road is drop-dead romantic.

Finally, having quite lost his wits, he was seized with the strangest conceit any madman in the world has ever had. It seemed to him that it was requisite and necessary, for the augmentation of his honor and for the benefit of the commonwealth, that he should become a knight-errant and ride throughout the world with his horse and his arms to seek adventures. (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote)

Photo by Guest House Zoar

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