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South China sika deer (Cervus nippon kopschi) is a critically endangered cervid subspecies. To learn the current status of the largest population of south China sika deer in Taohongling Nature Reserve, we monitored the changes of population size from 1980 to 2011. Our survey indicated that deer population size in the core area of the reserve increased from 90 in 1983 to 312 in 1998, then decreased to 160 in 2005, and again increased to 275 in 2007 and 365 in 2011. We also found that many deer dispersed from the core area of reserve to the surrounding areas. The initial increase was due to the vegetation change, as when logging was stopped and other human activity was reduced after the establishing of the nature reserve, vegetation in the reserve changed from grass dominant to shrub-arbor dominant. The later decrease and dispersal of sika deer to other areas might be caused by habitat alteration and the establishment of other deer farms around the reserve. Three deer farms have been established during past four years, and the roar of the stags of captive herds of another subspecies of Cervus nippon hortulorum attracted wild south China sika deer came down the hill during the rut season. To provide better environment for wild sika deer, we suggest that: some measures such as prescribed burning and slash logging should be taken for restraining the arboreal succession in the reserve; deer farms of Cervus nippon hortulorum around the reserve should be reduced or removed; appropriate human activity such as restricted firewood collection might be allowed in the reserve.
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Last date updated on August, 2021