Sat, Dec 27, 2003 - Page 4 News List

25 deer released in celebration of park's anniversary

CNA , PINGTUNG

Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien, right, presides over a ceremony yesterday in which 25 Formosan sika deer were released into the wild at Kenting National Park to mark the 20th anniversary of the park's founding.

PHOTO: WEI BIN, LIBERTY TIMES

At Kenting National Park, Taiwan's southernmost national park, 25 Formosan sika deer were released into the wild yesterday to mark the 20th anniversary of the park's founding.

Minister of the Interior Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) presided over a ceremony marking the release of the deer -- part of a recovery project for sika deer that began in 1984.

This was the fifth time since the park's inception in 1984 that park officials have released a group of the protected animals, which are bred in the park. Beginning with a herd of 22 pure-bred Formosan sika deer -- or cervus nippon taiwanus -- donated by the Taipei Yuanshan Zoo in 1984, Kenting park authorities have overseen the establishment of a herd of nearly 300 deer.

The park released a total of 98 of the indigenous deer in 1994, 1995, 1997 and 2002 into a forested area in the coastal county of Pingtung. These animals have bred and now the herd numbers around 300, according to zoologists.

Zoologists monitor the deer through electronic detectors implanted under the animals' skin.

Formosan sika deer hides were once one of the most important economic resources of Aborigines. The deer neared extinction six decades ago due to excessive hunting.

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