Four Aboriginal Bunun hunters headed out on hunting trip in the mountains of the Dandah Forest Region for the first time in 15 years Wednesday after the Hsinyi Rural Township Office in Nantou County recently lifted a ban on hunting in the region.
Bunun tribesman Si Wen-chung and his aide set off on their four-day hunting trip into the mountainous Dandah Forest Region near an upstream location of the Chuoshuei Creek.
Prior to their departure, Si and his aide offered rice wine and betel nuts to the gods as they prayed for a successful hunt and for them to return safely.
"It's like being back in the good old days," Si said.
Another Bunun hunter, Sung Ching-nan, and his aide started their journey from another creek. Sung, with extensive experience in upstream exploration and rock climbing, was set on trying his luck in areas near the water.
The prey that Si and Sung are hunting for include wild goats, Formosan sambars, Formosan Reeve's muntjacs, squirrels and several species of birds.
Sung said he doesn't expect the hunting trip to be as "thrilling" as he wants, "because there are too many restrictions and regulations."
The Bunun people, who have made the high mountains in central Taiwan their home for hundreds of years, are said to be the best hunters among the 12 officially-recognized Aboriginal tribes in Taiwan.
The Hsinyi Rural Township Office recently lifted the hunting ban after consulting with wildlife and forestation specialists from National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), allowing a total of 32 Aboriginal hunters to return to the mountains to hunt for a certain quantity of prey in a trial period of 10 days beginning Dec. 15.
Hsinyi Rural Township Chief Tian Ping-yuan quoted NTNU academics as saying that wild animal numbers in the Dandah Forest Region have recovered over the past 15 years to the point of being able to sustain limited hunting.
However, over the past two days, wildlife conservationist groups have expressed doubts about whether the lifting of the ban is a wise move, saying that without proper protection, the re-opening could signal the start of an ecological catastrophe.