The Deer of Rhodes (Dama Dama)

The Dama Dama deer is a protected species, known locally as the ‘platoni’, the symbol of the island or Rhodes.

he statues of buck and doe that grace the port of Rhodes are testimony to the long, deep relationship between the Rhodians and the deer.

This is a medium-sized deer that is exceptionally impressive: the bucks have broad antlers, while the bread having charming, marked coats with white mottles during the summer. The fallow deer is herbivore and feeds on leaves, shoots and fruit found by grazing in croplands and bushy or forested areas, where the deer can find water to consume throughout the year.

There are many legends about how this deer was brought to the island. The strongest one supports that they have been in Rhodes from ancient times, in the 6th century BC. Back then, the island was named “Elafousa”, after the many deer’s living there.

Another interesting legend states that, the deer was brought to Rhodes by the Crusaders in the medieval times, in order to protect their camps from the snakes. Although the deer’s do not kill snakes, their horns produce a substance with a smell that makes the snakes to turn away.

The fallow deer of Rhodes is the only wild bread of fallow deer in Greece which has been protected under Greek legislation since 1969.

You will find two deer statues, feminine and male, standing at the Mandraki Harbor, in the town of Rhodes, a uniqueness symbol for the island.