Tribute to the Dama Dama Deer

You too would love and admire those deer statues at the entrance of Mandraki Harbor of Rhodos, Greece, which have been erected to the tribute of the Dama Dama deer. There is a doe and a stag placed on elegant, high columns at the left and the right side of the harbor. All ships coming into port or putting out to sea pass between them.

When I first saw them, I was impressed with the people of Rhodes for placing these deer statues there. I thought it was a tribute to the beauty of the roe deer. Later I learnt that the “Dama Dama deer”, also known as the Rhodian deer, was honored for a different reason.    

Some believe that the Dama Dama Deer, a rare deer species found on the Greek isle of Rhodes were brought to Rhodes by the Crusaders (many centuries ago, in medieval times) to protect their camps from the many poisonous snakes that infested the island and threatened human lives.  The deer do not kill snakes, but their horns emit an odor that drives the snakes away.

Despite their beauty and their effectiveness against poisonous snakes, in later times the Dama Dama  Deer were hunted to extinction on this island. That is what we people have done, that is what some of us still do in our times – hunt animals to extinction. Why? Some for meat. Some for greed. Some just “because”. Because they have weapons that are powerful enough to easily destroy beautiful, important, lovable animals. Sometimes even people.

Fortunately enough, some of such Dama Dama deer were brought back to Rhodes in the 1930s by the Italians. Nowadays, a small population of them lives in a well protected nature reserve .

If you are fortunate enough to travel to Rhodes one day, and you find yourself on a ship entering Mandraki Harbor, you too will love and admire those deer statues which are erected to the tribute of the Dama Dama deer.




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