Home / China / Society

Animals next door? Wildlife resettlement plan meets controversy

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-11-17 10:20

CHANGCHUN - Ma Yanke, 80, lives at the foot of Changbai Mountain, a nature reserve in Northeast China's Jilin province. This year, around 100 captive-bred sika deer were installed in parks around the town.

Ma cannot imagine how the former hunters who populate the town will feel now that animals which used to be delicacies have VIP status.

"Gone are the days of widespread poaching," said Ma, a retired logger, recalling how residents used to eat birds, bears and boar they hunted in the deep forest.

The guns have all been confiscated and the residents now farm or rely on tourism for a living. Former predators and their prey are now obliged to live side-by-side in the hope of attracting tourists.

The local nature reserve came up with a plan this year to have animals settle in town, previously only home to some ducks and squirrels, and make them a tourism attraction.

According to local wildlife official Wu Yaoxiang, the deer are strictly quarantined before being sent to the village. Viewing platforms will be built to make sure the animals are not disturbed by tourists. The deer will be under close watch to prevent hunting.

Feeding stations will also be set up along the roads outside town, allowing visitors to see wild animals, like boar or roe deer.

Those with interests in tourism see the plans as a good way to increase their income, but animal lovers have reacted differently.

"Of course it's a good plan," says Gao Caiyun, a local tourism agency owner. "This plan will attract more visitors and that means a bigger income for me."

However, a resident who was reluctant to give his name said the plan could easily result in injuries to the animals or even their death.

"What if the government fails to protect them? I would rather they stay in the forest," he said.

He recalled that in 2010, a large number of snakes saved from market were killed on the roads after being released near the town, and foxes released in 2014 returned to the town, causing trouble for residents.

According to Shi Kun of Beijing Forestry University, the plan may cause genetic contamination, change the wild animals' habits and damage residents' assets and health.

Shi suggested that the deer be limited into a certain area, so that the risk is under control. He also said that wild animals should not be attracted to the town.

"Management is essential. The local government should have detailed management rules and take precautions for every eventuality," he said.

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349