A wild creature shows up this time in the Geo Quiz. We’re talking about a very large male deer, a stag. He is referred to as the Emperor and his domain, for the past 12 or so years, has been a national park in the southwest of England.
This park once served as a royal forest and hunting ground. Henry VIII hunted there. The park is located on the Bristol Channel coast and it’s said to be the longest stretch of coastal woodland in England and Wales.
There are wild sheep and ponies roaming the moorland and lots of red deer. Red deer stags sometimes can grow to be nine feet tall with antlers and they are prized by trophy hunters. The biggest one in recent memory was the Emperor but he’s been shot and no one knows who did it.
So where in southwest England did the Emperor roam?
Many people in England are trying to answer the question” “Who shot the Emperor?” The full nickname of the animal was ‘Emperor of Exmoor’ and Exmoor National Park, in southwest England, is the answer we were looking for. Lisa Mullins talks with the BBC’s Jonathan Morris who has been following the story.
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LISA MULLINS: Another wild creature shows up in today’s Geo Quiz. We’re talking about a very large red deer, a stag. They call him the Emperor. And his domain, for the past 12 or so years, has been a national park in the southwest of England. This park once served as a royal forest and hunting ground. King Henry VIII hunted there. The park is on the Bristol Channel coast.
JONATHAN MORRIS: It’s a high area of land covering thousands of acres of moor and lakes and bush and scrub. But amongst that climate live hundreds and thousands of animals and amongst those animals are, of course, the spectacular red deer.
MULLINS: Red deer stags can grow to be nine feet tall, including antlers, and they’re prized by trophy hunters. The biggest one in recent memory was the Emperor. Well now the Emperor has been shot dead and nobody knows who did it? So where in southwest England did the Emperor once roam? Stay tuned. I’m Lisa Mullins and this is The World. Who shot the Emperor? It’s a question people in England are trying to answer today. The Emperor is that majestic red deer stag we just told you about in the Geo Quiz a few minutes ago. His full nickname is the Emperor of Exmoor. And Exmoor National Park is the answer we were looking for. It’s in southwest England. The BBC’s Jonathan Morris is tracking the story. Jonathan, how did this magnificent stag come to be named the Emperor of Exmoor.
MORRIS: Lisa, it was first [INDISCERNIBLE] for Richard Austin who works for a number of local papers, freelance [INDISCERNIBLE] took photographs and he called it the Emperor of Exmoor. And certainly, in terms of its sheer magnificence, it does stand up to that name.
MULLINS: He sure was tall from hoof to…
MORRIS: He sure was. Nine foot tall from the hoof to the top of his antlers. I think the sheer magnificence of the animal is what has sparked such controversy in the country. There are 350,000 deer culled in the UK every year and there are around 2,500 red deer on Exmoor. And so the departure of one deer in the normal scheme of things would hardly go noticed. The fact that this deer had been photographed and received a lot of publicity because of its stature has created an enormous amount of controversy over its death.
MULLINS: Let’s hear this one clip we have from Austin, the photographer himself.
RICHARD AUSTIN: To be honest, I wasn’t 100% surprised. With a set of antlers such as this deer had, it was basically going to kill him in the end. He was his own worst enemy I suppose growing up big and that huge and that magnificent. He was a definite target.
MULLINS: It is kind of odd. I mean one wonders in a way why he wasn’t shot down before this.
MORRIS: Yes indeed. It was an extraordinary animal, but it was also around about twelve years old, so it wouldn’t have been much use for eating. The meat would have been extremely tough. An animal like that would have been shot, experts say, purely for its trophy. That is, its head and antlers which are worth several thousand pounds and to a committed stalker who be a prize worth going for.
MULLINS: Is that illegal though?
MORRIS: No, it’s not illegal. As long as you got a license for a rifle and the permission of the land owner, stalking is a quite legal practice in this country. There have been curbs on hunting in this country. You can only take out two dogs with you if you’re going stalking for deer and the deer has to be shot immediately. It’s now illegal to chase the deer across open land with your dogs.
MULLINS: Why though, if this was a legal act, is and there are, as you said, lots of deer who are shot among the 350,000 during deer hunting season, why does everybody want to know who shot Emperor?
MORRIS: Sure, as you say, there was absolutely nothing illegal on the face of it in what happened. The publicity surrounding the case has arisen the cause of this particular stag’s magnificent stature and I think people had assumed that stalker’s would stay away from it. Unfortunately, you can’t account for people’s greed and some people have obviously ignored the face that this is a magnificent animal and should perhaps be allowed to live and have taken it as a trophy.
MULLINS: So is there a hunt on now for the hunter?
MORRIS: The hunt is definitely on for the hunter, yes. There’s obviously a huge amount of interest still in this story. At the moment, I’m afraid it’s a mystery as to who shot this fantastic animal. It’s been reported that the Emperor’s body was seen dead. A witness heard two shots, saw the body on the ground, and the body was taken away in a pickup truck. And that’s all we know at the moment. Perhaps the stalker who had heard about this magnificent animal wanted to have the ultimate prize on his or her wall.
MULLINS: Alright. Speaking to us about the recent shooting of the Emperor of Exmoor National Park, the BBC’s Jonathan Morris. Thank you very much.
MORRIS: Thank you very much indeed.
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