Wed, 28 Jun 2000

Deer population at Bogor Palace concerns officials

BOGOR (JP): The 804 deer grazing on the 28-hectares Bogor Palace grounds is worrying the palace staff because of the limited amount of grass for their feeding.

According to the palace head of protocol Endang Sumitra, the grass on the 20 hectares allowed for feeding the deer is only sufficient for feeding 500 deer.

"This is one of the primary problems the Bogor Palace is facing," Endang told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

He admitted that the problem was not the first time it has occurred. The deer population at the palace, which celebrated its 518th anniversary early this month, also was overcrowded in 1979 with some 900 deer.

"We (at the time) settled the problem by distributing the deer to zoos and animal shelters in Indonesia, including the Taman Safari park in Cisarua, West Java," Endang said.

What the palace staff most worries about is a drought, similar to the long dry season of two or three years ago.

"The 20 kinds of grass at the palace grounds usually become dry," he said.

According to him, the deer have never been considered a bother by palace officials or guards even though the animals are free to roam.

"They are sensitive and private creatures, who find strategic and isolated places when they want to deliver their young, or die. When their horns fall off, the palace cleaners usually collect them and hand them over to the palace," she said.

"In the past, some of the horns were sent to Tampak Siring Palace (in Bali) where they are used as a tool to hit the traditional gamelan musical instruments," Endang said.

Rumors have it that some of the deer have been slaughtered by the palace staff and guards for eating.

According to Endang, the deer at the palace were brought in by the Dutch colonial governor general Herman Willem Daendels in 1808.

He bought three pairs taken from the border of India and Nepal, he said.

But a report said that the six deer were brought to the park by British governor general Thomas Stanford Raffles in 1811.

In 1992, police arrested a group of men for stealing 37 deer from the palace. One of the suspects admitted to having sold some of the stolen animals for between Rp 2 million and Rp 3 million each. (21/ylt)