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Milu reserve expanded to protect rare species

China Daily, March 23, 2023
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Milu enjoy their extended habitat at the Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve in Hubei province in October. LEI GANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Wild population

Outside the reserve, about 1,000 of the deer live wild in nine counties and cities across Hubei and Hunan, making it the world's largest wild milu population, according to Yang Tao, the reserve's deputy director of management and scientific research.

"Last year, the number of fawns born at the reserve reached 307, which represented a rise of 15 percent from the previous year," he said. "That's because of the good wetland environment and effective (general) epidemic and disease prevention measures."

However, the rising population posed challenges in health management, especially in extreme weather, so expansion of the reserve was necessary, Yang said.

Last year, a prolonged drought dried ponds and rivers in the reserve, which made it hard for the animals to obtain drinking water and also prevented them from bathing in the water when temperatures rose. That resulted in too many milu gathering together, which led to a rise in the number of germs in the remaining water and raised the risk of an epidemic.

To solve the problem, reserve staff members bored wells in surrounding depressions and cleared litter in the exposed riverbeds to avoid injury to the milu, which proved to be an effective way of protecting the animals, Yang said.

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