Mon, Sep 16, 2019 - Page 9 News List

Death by girdling: sambars strip tree bark in Yushan National Park
玉山樹木慘遭「環剝」致死 水鹿逞凶啃樹竟是為了...

A tree in the Tataka area of Yushan National Park exhibits bark stripping by sambars, an occurrence that has been happening for several years.

Photo courtesy of Yushan National Park

For the past few years sambar in Yushan National Park have been found gnawing bark off trees, sometimes “girdling” the entire tree by gnawing the bark along its entire circumference, cutting off the transmission of nutrients and killing the tree. The park administration opened up an investigation into the problem. Preliminary findings point to the sambar needing calcium for the growth of their antlers, and stripping the tree bark to supplement the nutrient. The exact reason for this still requires further analysis. Future research will also look into how to address the problem, and how to avoid trees dying because their bark is being stripped, altering the forest physiognomy and ecology.

The park administration says it has been investigating the problem of sambar gnawing tree bark along the Nanzih Siansi Forest Road in the park area. Research focusing on the Red Cypress coniferous trees has discovered that the gnawing occurs mostly between March and May, during the spring.

This period, between March and May, coincides with the time the antlers of the park’s sambars are hardening. It is at this time that they need calcium, and this nutrient is found in the bark of the Red Cypress coniferous trees. It is thought that the sambars are gnawing the bark to obtain calcium. To protect the trees in the park, animal salt blocks are being placed in the area, to provide for the sambars’ nutritional needs. It is hoped that this measure will reduce the bark stripping.

Another investigation has been taking place in the Tataka area of the park over the past few years. The initial findings of this investigation is that the bark gnawing is occurring in the period from May through November, mostly in the summer and fall, different from the time in the Nanzih Siansi Forest Road area.

In the future, the height above sea level and the forest physiognomy of the two areas will be compared, to clarify what is producing the different bark gnawing behavior. This could be because the sambar herds are migrating through the areas. This information will be used as a reference for future forest conservation efforts.

(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)







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