“Away, ye gay landscapes!
Ye gardens of rose …”
Wait … while those are the beginning lines of the Loch Na Garr poem by Lord Byron, cousin of the captain of the Blonde who brought the bodies of King Liholiho and Kamāmalu back to Hawaiʻi, after they died of measles in England (1824) …
… this story is not about that Loch Na Garr, nor is it about ‘gay landscapes’ nor ‘gardens of roses.’
But it is about a king, Kamehameha V, and a boat, the Loch Na Garr, and unfortunately its cargo – deer – that dastardly do-bad to landscapes and native plants on Molokai, Lānaʻi and, now, unfortunately, Maui.
“A gentleman residing on the upper Ganges, where these deer abound, offered to supply them for transportation here, when Dr. Hillebrand was in Calcutta, and at his suggestion that His Majesty was desirous to obtain them, this consignment was made to Hong Kong.”
“Three bucks and four hinds have arrived safely. They have been well cared for on the voyage by Capt. Baskfill, and are the finest as well as largest number of deer imported here at any one time. They have been delivered to the King and will be sent to Molokai.” (Hawaiian Gazette, December 17, 1867)
“These really beautiful animals, the spotted Indian deer brought by the Loch Na Garr, which lies at market wharf, have been visited by many of our residents the past week.”
“On Wednesday one of the hinds gave birth to a fine kid, as healthy and frisky as if born in his own mountain home. It is a male, and the officers of the ship have named him Kamehameha VI.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 21, 1867)
“They are the speckled Indian deer, a variety well adapted to domestication on our islands.” (Hawaiian Gazette, December 17, 1867)
“(S)even in number, a present from the Hawaiian Consul at Hong Kong to the King. Eight were put on board, but one has died. The remainder are in very fine condition, having apparently improved on the voyage.”
“Some of them are quite young, and the horns of the bucks are in the process of growth showing the manner in which these ornamental appendages are formed.”
“All the animals are as tame as pet kids, and will be shipped to Molokai, as soon as the King’s yacht is ready to take them aboard.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 14, 1867)
“(T)he deer will be transferred to the King’s yacht, and taken to Molokai, where we hope they will rapidly increase and stock the whole island.” (Pacific Commercial Advertiser, December 21, 1867)
As the property on Molokai belonged to King Kamehameha V, he placed a kapu (prohibition) on the deer. The deer increased under this protection. They sought the mountain areas as their habitat because they were crowded out by the large herds of cattle that ranged on the low lands. (Cooke)
In this highland area in thirty years the deer increased to a great number. The American Sugar Co, Ltd built a forest fence to keep the cattle from entering the forest. This however did not keep out the deer.
In November 1898, the sugar company hired two professional hunters from California to shoot off the deer. These men were engaged at forty dollars per month with perquisites and were allowed to sell the skins.
It is commonly reported that these two men, in the year in which they operated, killed between 3,500 and 4,000 deer. (Cooke)
Molokai was not the only island to get these deer. Shortly after Harry A Baldwin and his brother, Frank, had purchased the island of Lānaʻi from the Lānaʻi Company in 1917, they wished to stock that island with deer.
The Molokai folks sold them for $50 apiece. In lieu of ranch wages, cowboys captured and transported the deer for half the amount that the Baldwins would pay.
Twelve deer in all were captured. They were then loaded on to a truck, caged then sent over on a large sampan, “Makaiwa.” When near the shore of that island, the cage was opened and the deer allowed to swim ashore. (Cooke)
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Frank Loney says
Saw a doe and a fawn 4 miles south of Waimea, Hawaii about a month and a half ago, say early June, grazing nervously on the makai side of the road. A friend was behind me on his motorcycle and we concurred that they were in fact deer. Guess they are spreading here on the Big Island. Another invasive species, just what we don’t need.
Thank you Peter, Frank Loney