Sun, Mar 17, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Deer population back to pre-921 numbers: bureau

JIJI EARTHQUAKE:The collapse of a slope of Jiufenershan killed 41 people, but also hit the wild sambar deer living in the area, ushering in two decades of conservation efforts

By Tung Cheng-kuo and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Formosan sambar grazes in Nantou County’s Guosing Township in an undated picture.

Photo provided by the Nantou branch of the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau

The wild sambar population in Nantou County’s Jiufenershan (九份二山) has been restored to 4,000, after nearly two decades of intensive conservation following the 921 Earthquake, the Council of Agriculture’s Soil and Water Conservation Bureau said yesterday.

The bureau had been tight-lipped about the conservation program to avoid attracting visitors who might have disrupted the efforts, bureau Nantou Branch Director Chen Jung-chun (陳榮俊) said.

As the deer population has largely recovered, the bureau now deems it safe to reveal the program to the public for the first time as the 20th anniversary of the earthquake approaches, Chen said.

Tourists visiting would have disrupted reproduction during a critical time, he said, adding that the Endemic Species Research Institute and local residents estimate the deer population at about 4,000.

The 921 Earthquake, also known as the 1999 Jiji Earthquake, was a tremor of 7.3 on the Richter scale that wreaked havoc across Taiwan, resulting in 2,456 deaths and estimated property damage of NT$300 billion (US$9.71 million at the current exchange rate). The quake’s epicenter was in the county’s Jiji Township (集集).

The bureau was given the responsibility to restore 256 hectares in Nantou’s Guosing Township (國姓), later named the 921 Earthquake National Memorial Site in Jiufenershan, which was heavily damaged, he said.

The quake led to the collapse of Jiufenershan’s dip slope, triggering a 36 million cubic meter landslide that killed 41 people and 300 deer in a 180 hectare area, and forming two barrier lakes, he said.

Since then, the bureau has kept a constant watch on the condition of the slope and run a program to repopulate the area with wild deer by restoring the natural environment and releasing deer bred in captivity, he said.

Visitors are invited to observe the deer, provided that they do not harm or otherwise disturb the animals, he said, adding that herds often gather near the Slanted House (傾斜屋) on Longnan Road, the Ground Zero (震爆點) area and the barrier lake on Sezihkeng Creek (澀仔坑溪).

Two photography competitions are open for submissions until the end of July, with one focusing on the deer, and the other on natural scenery and the local community, he said.

A total of NT$180,000 in prize money is to be divided among the winning contestants, he said.

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