Conservation and Restoration of Moose Population in Hanma National Nature Reserve

Hanma National Nature Reserve
Published: 08 July 2020
Last edited: 08 July 2020
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Summary

Because of decades of logging and rapid economic development in Greater Khingan Mountains, moose population had sharply declined, and the habitat had been seriously damaged. Moose is also extremely sensitive to climate change. With the global warming, moose population constantly shrunk back northward.

In order to protect and restore the moose population in Hanma and adjacent areas, the project has conducted in-depth research on moose. Based on the research results, the protection countermeasures were formulated: 1) Project personnel carried out patrol work on a regular basis every month; 2) Fight poaching; 3) Prevent wildfires; and 4) Use various ways and means to raise awareness on the importance of protecting and restoring moose population.

Classifications

Region
East Asia
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Forest ecosystems
Taiga
Theme
Adaptation
Poaching and environmental crime
Species management
Challenges
Increasing temperatures
Wildfires
Poaching
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of infrastructure
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge

Location

Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, People's Republic of China
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Challenges

  • Limited funding
  • Insufficient technicians
  • Large survey area
  • There are only a few roads in the survey area, and many places can only be visited by foot, these makes the survey difficult.
  • Facing personal security threats in the process of field survey
  • Lack of historical monitoring data but long-term monitoring required
  • Global climate change and frequent occurrence of extreme climate
  • Frequent wildfires

Beneficiaries

  • Reserve Managers
  • Scientists
  • Local community residents

How do the building blocks interact?

Scientific research and monitoring is the basis. Through scientific research and monitoring, the moose population density, genetic and dispersal mechanism, nutritional adaptation strategy, gut microbial characteristics, movement characteristics, etc. are clear. Based on these results, protection strategies are formulated. Conservation and management is key to protect and restore the moose population. Awareness raising and education is the guarantee. Through the awareness raising and education materials obtained from scientific research, this work can be understood and supported by the public, and therefore the smooth development of scientific research monitoring and protection management is better guaranteed.

Impacts

As the largest herbivore, moose is a keystone species for restoring the ecological health of the swampy grasslands and tundra. Moose is also one of the most important large herbivores in and around Hanma. This means the species has a crucial role for the ecology. Moose is the most important species for local residents. It has had close contact with many forestry workers and left many legends in Greater Khingan Mountains.

Based on the in-depth study of moose population density, genetic and dispersal mechanism, nutrition adaptation strategy, gut microbial characteristics, and movement characteristics, effective protection strategies were formulated for the adaptation mechanism of moose under global climate change. Regular patrol found and solved problems in time. A comprehensive ban on logging and severe crackdown on poaching have ensured the complete migration channel of moose and minimize human interference. Through the prevention of wildfire, the habitat of moose avoided to be destroyed in a large area in a short time. Publicity and education to the public ensured the smooth implementation of the project. Through the implementation of the whole project, not only the moose population is protected, but so do other local wild animals. The balance and stability of the ecosystem are then preserved.

Story

The team of Professor Jiang Guangshun from the College of Wildlife and Protected Area, Northeast Forestry University has played a huge role in this work. The team members trained the nature reserve staff who participated in the project, in camera trap monitoring, fecal sample collection, hair sample collection, plant sample collection, sample plot investigation, footprint tracking among other, and carried out these survey together.

Due to the lack of roads, many of the survey areas can only be reached on foot. Each member of the project team carried a large backpack with the equipment needed for the investigation, food, tents, sleeping bags, moisture-proof mats, etc. Sometimes it took more than a week to walk in the field.

The temperature difference between day and night in Greater Khingan Mountains is over 20 ℃. In summer, it is hot during the day, but cold at night. When raining, the night will be more humid and cold. During the day, mosquitoes were so dense that they could not be driven away. They bit the project personnel, and even blocked their sight.

In winter, the snow thickness can be over 50 cm, and the temperature can be below - 35 ℃. Project team members needed to walk at least 12 km a day, and lived in simple tents at night. Once a project team member got a hole in his shoe during the investigation. He didn't dare to rest for a while until he came back to the camp at 7:00 p.m. and his feet were numb with cold.

During the spring, the project team members were faced with serious threats from ticks and hungry brown bears. Ticks carry a variety of deadly viruses such as forest encephalitis and Lyme disease. In Greater Khingan Mountains, people die every year from tick bites. Everyone involved in the project were bitten many times by ticks, but fortunately there has been no case of death. Spring is the season when brown bears need to replenish energy after hibernation. In the course of field survey, we often encountered hungry brown bears. In particular, female brown bears with teddies are very vulnerable to attack if not handled properly.

So far, three doctors and one master have graduated from this program.

Contributed by

Yang Kun Hanma National Nature Reserve