Eight axis deer were introduced on January 19th 1868, to the island of Moloka‘i by King Kamehameha V. Contrary to popular belief, they were not a gift to the King but something he intentionally pursued and was “desirous to obtain." They were imported through Jardine, Mathison & Co., a trading company based out of Hong Kong. Upon arrival, the King placed a kapu (restriction) on the deer and under his protection their numbers began to grow. Its estimated that there are currently 30,000-50,000 axis deer on the island of Molokaʻi.
In the 1920's axis deer were introduced to the island of Lanaʻi by Harry A. Baldwin and his brother Frank. They were garnered from James Munro, the acting manager of Molokaʻi Ranch, who was paid fifty dollars per animal. Twelve deer in all were captured on the west end of Molokaʻi, many of which were caught by Raymond Joao, a cowboy who worked for the ranch and rode a monsoon colt named Blue Bird. The deer were loaded onto a barge, placed in a large cage, and, upon nearing the island of Lanaʻi, were released to swim ashore. Its estimated that there are currently 10,000-15,000 axis deer on Lanaʻi.
In September 1959, the Department of Land and Natural Resources introduced five axis deer from the island of Lanaʻi to the island of Maui to be managed for game hunting. In July 1960, four additional deer were again released by the state, at Kaʻonoʻulu Ranch, near the 1959 release site. Its estimated that there are currently 30,000-50,000 deer on the island of Maui with significant growth expected over the next several decades.