MOOSE CONSERVATION IN CHINA: CHALLENGES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Studies of Manchurian moose (Alces alces cameloides), one of China's species of deer, are scant. Available data indicate that moose numbers and distribution in China are declining. Population estimates in the 1980’s is half of that in the 1970’s, with an average annual decline of 6.3%. In the Greater Khingan mountain range, moose are relatively abundant and account for 70% of the total. In the Lesser Khingan mountain range however, moose seem to be isolated into 3 local populations, each with an effective population size of less than 500 individuals. Viewed in the long term, moose in Lesser Kinghan will have difficulties increasing densities, and may become more isolated by increasing human disturbance. One hundred Years ago, the forested moose range of Manchuria covered more than 70% of the landmass, but by the 1980’s this forest cover was reduced to only 35%. In the 21st century, the human population in China is predicted to peak between the years 2030-2040 resulting in a continued deterioration in the natural environment. Thus, during the next 40 years, conservation and management of moose in China will be under severe pressure. As far back as the 1960’s, the Chinese government realized this problem and made efforts to protect moose, both through legislation and management of forests for moose habitat. Ten natural reserves were established on loose range, and four others are in the planning stages. The objectives of forestry have been changed from timber production to sustained development which includes improvement of the environment, wise use of resources, extensive reforestation, forest protection, intensive management, and better living standards for local people. Undoubtedly some of these measures will benefit moose and their habitat. However, the primary problems for most conservation in China continued to be lack of funding, week public awareness, and little international involvement.
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