Mr. Tan Chunzhe, a ranger of Wangqing Forestry Bureau, shot 5 photos and a 2 minutes 40 seconds long video of a group of red deer with his digital camera in Lanjia forest farm of Wangqing Forestry Bureau at 8:10 a.m. on Nov 16, 2012.
There are 5 red deer in the photos and video. WWF staff identified that there is at least one wild red deer in the photo. Three of them could be confirmed as the reintroduced captive ones released on this July 29 because radio color or ear label can be seen clearly. The one could not be confirmed because of the angle of the photo.
According to WWF’s ungulate survey in 2010, red deer is very rare in Wangqing. According to the staff from Wangqing forestry department, it is the first time to encounter a wild red deer in recent decade.
“The shape of the antler of the wild red deer is cone-shape, which indicates that it is a sub-adult male with 17 -18 months old. Red deer’s sexual maturity is reached 3.5 years old. Therefore, this one does not have reproductive capacity,” expressed Prf. Zhang Minghai, the ungulate expert from Northeast Forestry University.
Prf. Zhang noted that sub-adult red deer in this age normally does not live alone, which implies that it is very possible there is a wild red deer population very close to the five ones.
Ms Shi Quanhua, officer of WWF NEC Office, says that this sighting shows that the captive red deer adapt the wildness very well in the harsh winter. They also successfully integrated into the wild population, which helps improve genetic diversity and vigor of wild population of red deer.
Changbai mountains is one of the most important Amur tiger habitat. As the main prey of Amur tiger, red and sika deer were ever widely distributed in this area. Because of the degradation of the environment as well as poaching, the wild population of red and sika deer decreased dramatically, which is one of the main factors to prevent the restoration of Amur tiger population. To cope with it, WWF cooperated with Jilin Forestry Department and Wangqing Forestry Bureau to carry out the pilot project of restoration of tiger’s prey population in Changbai mountains, which aims to find an effective way to restore wild population of red and sika deer in short time.
“This event proves the feasibility of our project. With further implementation and improvement of the project, WWF hopes it would be promoted in the entire Changbai mountains to reestablish a healthy ecosystem for our final goal, namely, doubling wild tiger in the next Year of Tiger,” expressed Dr. Zhu Jiang, the head of WWF NEC Office.