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Protected condor preys on endangered deer

BETWEEN the hunter and the hunted, which should be protected first?

Chinese animal preservation experts are wrestling with that question as condors and spotted deer, both endangered species, have become linked in the food chain in a reserve in north China's Hebei Province neighboring Beijing.

More than 100 young deer have been eaten by condors this spring, said Zhou Changhong, a senior administration official at the Luanhe River National Nature Reserve.

"The raptors are growing in number and threatening to catch larger animals, like elk, in the reserve," Zhou said.

The reserve, sprawling over 50,634 hectares at the headwaters of the Luanhe River, is home to more than 600 spotted deer and 10 elk that have been relocated from remote parts of Beijing.

Both are listed among China's most endangered animal species.

The predator, the condor, is on China's second-ranked preservation list.

"An adult condor has a wingspread of more than two meters, and not even wardens can frighten it," said Zhou, adding the administration could only organize more patrols in hopes of stopping condors that are swooping down on deer.

The reserve was founded by Hebei government in 2002 and later upgraded to a national nature reserve.

Species such as the mandarin duck, which long ago vanished from the region, have been sheltering at the reserve during their migrations since 2005.


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