News from Emma Alesworth/ Associate Director, who is attending a contract signing ceremony in the Hubei Province, China.
After an exciting few days, WWT Consulting has just signed a contract, on behalf of a partnership formed, to develop a management plan for the Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve. Along with Bristol, Clifton & West of England Zoological Society, Woburn Enterprise and from Beijing B&B International and a specialist advisor Chen Yun this team will spend the next 8 months working on the project.
Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve is approximately 4hours west of Wuhan, the state capital of Hubei, on the banks of the Yangtze River. It is now home to what became in China, at the turn of the 20th Century, an extinct native species called Pere David Deer also known as ‘milu’. Fortunately, the 11th Duke of Bedford had taken 18 of these deer to Woburn Abbey in the early 20th Century and successfully bred them. He was able to return 20 ‘milu’ to China in 1985, to a reserve known as Nan Hazi just outside Beijing. Following successful reintroduction and an increase in population, in the early 1990’s Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve was created and 20 ‘milu’ were given to this reserve.
The reserve is approximately 1500 ha with a mix of habitats including wet grassland, reed stands, open water, recently planted woodlands and is now home to over 600 ‘milu’. With an ever increasing population, change in habitats, flooding and water quality issues the reserve is faced with a number of challenges that need to be addressed. Through this partnership we hope to deliver a plan that provides management support for the ‘milu’, restoration of the damaged wetlands, community engagement to reduce any pressures there may be on this reserve, assess how livelihoods can be supported and opportunities for raising public awareness through new and exciting interpretation and education programmes.
In October a team of ecologist and hydrologists from WWT Consulting will be going out to undertake surveys to ascertain the feasibility for wetland restoration and enhancement across the reserve and also with the partners start a baseline of the habitats and species across the whole of the reserve.
Below are a number of photos taken at the contract signing ceremony today and during a very wet site visit yesterday where we were lucky enough to see the ‘milu’, also referred to by the Chinese as “sze pu shiang” which means ‘none of the four’ – it is supposed that this deer has a neck of a camel, hooves of a cow, tail of a donkey and antlers of a deer!