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Once Extinct in China, Milu Now Thrive in the Country
   2015-06-25 21:41:34    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li

The photo, taken on June 18, 2015, shows the gate of Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve in Jingzhou, central China's Hubei province. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com / Liu Ranran]

This year marks the 30th anniversary of milu, being re-introduced into China. After three decades of conservation, about 3,000 milus live on reserves throughout the country, including the Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve in central China's Hubei province, Yancheng Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve in east China's Jiangsu province and Nanhaizi Wetland Park in Beijing.

"As one of the earth's rare animals, Milu is also named 'Sibuxiang' in Chinese, which means "four ways of being unalike" due to it having a horse-like face, donkey-like tail, cow-like hooves and dear-like antlers. They originally lived in the mud flats along the Yellow River and Yangtze River in China," said Cai Jiaqi, an engineer at the Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve in Jingzhou, central China's Hubei province.

Believed to have lived on earth as far back as 200 million years ago, milu subsist on a diet of mainly grass, leaves and plants. Its gentle nature and lack of aggression have made the milu prime targets for hunters throughout Chinese history; milu were favored game among the royal families of China's many dynasties.

According to Cai, in 1894, Beijing's Yongding River flooded and washed away the walls of the Milu Chase. Many of the animals fled captivity, only to become hunted by local residents for food. In 1900, the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded Beijing; a battle the finally led to the extinction of milu in China.

In 1898, Britain's XI Duke of Bedford purchased milu from zoos around Europe. Eighteen milu were purchased and kept on a manor in Northern London, where they multiplied. These 18 milu are the ancestors of all of today's milu across the world.

In 1985, the owner of the manor sent 38 milus back to China, returning the animals to their ancestral homeland. The China Milu Foundation was established the same year to welcome the milu back home, and now has become a non-profit organization named China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, specializing in conservation of biological diversity.

"The descendants of Bedford will visit Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve for the 30th anniversary of the milus return to China in November this year," Cai added.

Today, there are about 6,000 milu alive on earth.

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