XI'AN, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Thirteen captive-bred forest musk deer were released into the wild on Thursday in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, according to the provincial forestry department.
The 13 deer have developed strong survival abilities, including avoiding predators and identifying human threats, during a year of training, said Li Sanyuan, director of the provincial forestry department.
They were released to a habitat for wild forest musk deer in Ningshan County in the Qinling Mountains.
After the release, scientists from Shaanxi Institute of Zoology will monitor their activity with the help of GPS necklaces and infrared cameras.
The release of the musk deer marks the beginning of China's restoration of the wild population, said Wang Weisheng, an official with the State Forestry Administration
The species is under the country's highest level of protection. They are hunted by poachers because a secretion believed to have high medicinal value and is a precious ingredient in some perfumes.
In 1970s and 1980s, the wild population declined significantly due to poaching and damage to its habitat. The situation has improved in recent years.
There are 4,000 to 4,500 forest musk deer living in the wild and over 13,000 living in captivity in Shaanxi.