Published: 10:21, 26 August 2021
| Updated: 15:29, 26 August 2021
A white stag has reportedly been killed and beheaded by poachers at a nature reserve.
The rare animal is thought to have been slaughtered at Ranscombe Farm in Cuxton in Medway.
The head and antlers of a stag once mounted could be worth thousands of pounds.
Matthew Nightingale posted on social media that he discovered the remains of the beast – a variant of the male red deer.
He said its body had been burned and it had been decapitated.
He wrote: "It is with a heavy heart I confirm our beloved white stag at Ranscombe has been shot and killed by trophy hunters.
"I heard rumours and went today to investigate and got the confirmation of the remains off what was left after they burnt the body. They removed the valuable head and antlers.
"This looks around two weeks or so old. If anyone has any CCTV on Poplicans or Nine Acres preferably near to the entrance to the woods, one evening a few weeks back I saw a modified 4x4 leaving the area with a group of men inside, it was after dark, well before midnight.
"Any information would be helpful in identifying the vehicle. I'm afraid I can't be any more specific on the information because at the time I thought very little of it but in hindsight it was very suspicious and now links in with the timeframe.
"Please please please in future if we ever get another unique and beautiful creature, please keep the enjoyment of seeing it to yourself and not advertise our assets to people like these. RIP our white hart. I have reported this information to the police."
Ranscombe is situated on the North Downs and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
It is managed by Plantlife, the UK’s leading wildflower conservation charity.
This 560-acre park has 10km of footpaths to explore across ancient farmland, pockets of chalk grassland and coppice woods with stunning views across the Medway Gap and Luddesdown valley.
Jon Savage, who runs Lower Bush Alpacas – a family animal park in the village, said: "It's horrendous. It's bad enough that it was shot but to to chop its head off so somebody can stick it on their wall is terrible.
"It makes me worry about my alpacas. We've got security and CCTV, but if somebody comes in during the middle of the night, you might come down and find the alpacas are not there.
"Not many people knew about the white stag. They are quite rare. I think they liked to keep it quiet. It used to wander around with the deer. I think it's been there about three years."
Ian Dunn, Plantlife CEO, said:“We are shocked and saddened to hear reports of the slaying of a white stag at Ranscombe Farm, Plantlife’s flagship nature reserve.
"Plantlife is proud of Ranscombe and the safe haven it offers for plants and wildlife, providing an opportunity for people to connect with nature, both local and from further afield. Brutal wildlife crimes such as this alleged incident are very upsetting for all those who wish to see wildflowers and wildlife flourish in special places for nature like Ranscombe.
"It is all the more upsetting since the stag in question had become such a popular sight with regular visitors.”