Pere David's deer thrive in China 20 years after reintroduction

Posted on October, 19 2005

Twenty years after being reintroduced back into the wild in China, the once extinct Pere David’s deer are once again thriving in the Central Yangtze region.
Wuhan, Hubei, China Twenty years after being reintroduced back into the wild in China, Pere David’s deer are once again thriving in the Central Yangtze region.

The Pere David's deer was once found only in China along the central and lower Yangtze River basin. But, years of overhunting and loss of its wetland habitat due to reclamation led to the extinction of the species in the wild in the early 20th century.
However, a small population of Pere David's deer bred at the Woburn Abbey wildlife park in the United Kingdom were re-introduced to the Central Yangtze in 1985 by the Chinese government, and in 1986 by WWF.

From this founder population of 39, the numbers of Pere's David deer in China have increased steadily. A recent count put the population at 2,500 individuals in three national nature reserves.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the species reintroduction, a celebration was held today at a new visitor centre that has been opened at the Yangtze Tian’ezhou Oxbow Wetland Reserve, home to the species' largest population (600 deer) and site of a WWF-HSBC Yangtze wetland restoration project.
The centre — established by WWF, together with HSBC and government agencies from Hubei Province and Shishou County — is aimed at raising awareness on conserving the habitat not only of Pere David’s deer, but of the ecosystem that supports local communities and rare species, including the finless porpoise. 
‘While it is tremendously exciting to see how Pere David’s deer are now thriving, there is still a long way to go," said Wang Limin, manager of the WWF-HSBC Yangtze Programme.

"We are also trying to restore the ‘web of life’ along the Yangtze River, securing the home of not only Pere David’s deer but all life that depends on the Yangtze."  

The WWF-HSBC freshwater initiative has to date re-linked four formerly isolated lakes to the Yangtze and introduced fish fry to these areas as the first step in healing the area’s degraded ecosystem.

In addition, WWF is providing seed funding and technical support to fish farmers to adopt sustainable livelihoods — such as eco-fisheries and ecotourism — to reduce pressure on the area’s natural resources, as well as supporting trainings to improve the capacity of nature reserve staff. 


• The anniversary celebration was attended by relatives of the UK team that helped reintroduced Pere David’s deer back into China in 1985, including Lord Robin Russell, the Son of the Marquis of Tavistock, and other visitors including friends of the Russell family. Also on hand to celebrate this achievement was representatives of HSBC, the Hubei Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau, local government, and the Beijing Milu Park. 

• Established in 1865 in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Limited has long been involved in the welfare of the communities it serves. Since it began to track donations for mainland China, more than RMB100 million covering the areas of disaster relief, community welfare, vocational training, environment and education has been recorded. In 2002, the HSBC Group established the five-year Investing in Nature Programme supporting a range of conservation initiatives around the world. The WWF-HSBC Yangtze Programme is one of these initiatives.

For further information:
Wu Hongyun, Coordinator
WWF China Wuhan Field Office
Tel: +86 27 82743845
Caroline Liou, Web and Communications Manager
WWF China Programme
Tel: +86 10 6522 7100
Once only found in China, overhunting and loss of habitat led to the extinction of Pere David’s deer in the wild.
© Chen Yong