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  • Gordon Dumoulin

Indigenous Milu deer population on the rise in China to 5,000

Indigenous Milu deer population on the rise in China. Milu (麋鹿; pinyin: mílù; Elaphurus davidianus), also known in the West as Père David's deer (named after Armand David, a French missionary who first recorded the deer in China in 1865) is currently extinct in the wild.

Due to hunting for its meat and antlers, there was only one herd left at the end of 19th century in the Nanyuan Royal Hunting Garden in Beijing. In 1900, this garden was occupied by German troops and the remaining deer were either killed and eaten by the German soldiers or transported to Europe for exhibition and breeding.

The Milu deer were reintroduced in 1986 in Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve where 36 milu were placed from five UK zoological gardens. Dafeng Milu Nature Reserve is located in Dafeng, Jiangsu Province near the Yellow Sea coast in eastern China, with a total area of 780 km2.

The reserve is an unpolluted wetland and has been recognized as a fabulous conservation land for Milu Deer. In 2019, more than 5,000 Milu deer are living in the reserve with more than 800 babies born this spring. A wonderful development, maybe we will see this legendary animal in the wild in China in decades to come.

The Milu deer is sometimes known in China by its informal name sibuxiang (Chinese: 四不像; pinyin: sì bú xiàng), literally meaning "four not alike", which could mean "the four unlikes" or "like none of the four"; it is variously said that the four are cow, deer, donkey, horse (or) camel, and that the expression means in detail:

"the hooves of a cow but not a cow, the neck of a camel but not a camel, antlers of a deer but not a deer, the tail of a donkey but not a donkey."

"the nose of a cow but not a cow, the antlers of a deer but not a deer, the body of a donkey but not a donkey, tail of a horse but not a horse".

"the tail of a donkey, the head of a horse, the hoofs of a cow, the antlers of a deer" "the neck of a camel, the hoofs of a cow, the tail of a donkey, the antlers of a deer".

"the antlers of a deer, the head of a horse and the body of a cow".

The Dafeng Milu Reserve is part of the larger Jiangsu Dafeng National Nature Reserve which is home to protected Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China. The reserve has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List yesterday 5th of July during the World Heritage meeting in Baku.

#china #environment #chinesenature

Pictures from Chinaplus

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