Friday, February 26, 2016

Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve, Dafeng, China

Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve is located in Dafeng, Jiangsu Province and near the Yellow Sea coast in eastern China. Milu is also known as Père David's deer or elaphure, a species of deer that is currently extinct in the wild. They are native to the subtropics of China, preferring marshland environment and grazing mainly on grass and aquatic plants. Early in neolithic times, the milu’s range extended across the majority of mainland China. Archaeologists have found milu antlers at settlements from the Liao River in the north to Jiangsu (including Dafeng) and Zhejiang Province and across the Yellow and Yangtze River Basins in Shaanxi and Hunan Province. However, in the late 19th century, there was only one herd belonged to Tongzhi, the Emperor of China and maintained in the Nanyuan Royal Hunting Garden. Then in 1900, the garden was occupied by troops and some of the deer were shot, some were illegally transported to Europe for exhibition and breeding.

Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve is a second reintroduction of Milu into China in 1986 where 36 milu were chosen from five UK zoological gardens with the bulk of the deer coming from Whipsnade Wild Animal Park sponsored by National Forestry Department of China and World Wildlife Fund. It is an unpolluted wetland and has been recognized as a fabulous conservation land for Milu. In 2006, the population at this Nature Reserve had researched around 950 with an average annual population increases 17%. It is now the largest Milu Nature Reserve in the world, and in 1997 it was awarded as the National Nature Reserve in China.

Milu have been listed as extinct in the wild, as all populations are under captive management. In Dafeng Nature Reserve, free-ranging projects have been put forward since 1986, after 10 years’ exploring, the free-ranging population has increased 13.2% by year and formed the herd of 118 free-ranging milu. Until 2013.9, the population has increased to 2027 in the Reserve.

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