“We are also seeing new bear cubs every year. This is a good indication that our conservation efforts are paying off,” Yu added.
Dafen Mountain is about 40km, or a three-day hike, from Hualien County’s Yuli Township (玉里). It is on the eastern section of the famed Batongguan Historic Trail (八通關古道), which was constructed in 1919 by the then-ruling Japanese authorities.
Hwang, nicknamed “bear mother,” annually leads a team from the Institute of Wildlife Conservation on 10 days of field survey studies in the mountains during the autumn and winter.
Oaks are the dominant trees on the middle-altitude areas of Dafen Mountain and the acorns ripen from November to February, the Yushan National Park Administration said. As such, acorns are among the main sources of food for Formosan black bears in autumn and winter.
Since oak tree forest areas attract bears from their normal habitat in the higher altitudes, the park administration has built a number of cabins in the Dafen Mountain region. The cabins serve as field stations for the park’s Black Bear Conservation Group, for long-term monitoring of the endangered bears and studies of the population in their natural habitat.