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Nanhaizi Park for foreign friends

CRI Online)  10:21, October 22, 2012

A heron strolls the pathway at Nanhaizi Park's David Deer Park.( Wang)

The Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries sponsors a photography contest for foreigners, which includes transportation to places where photo opportunities are as populous as the horribly cute babies in Anne Geddes' prints. This week, a group of foreigners were taken to Nanhaizi Park to participate in the Beijing Spirit in the Eyes of Foreign Friends photo contest.

Nanhaizi Park is a small trip south of downtown Beijing to Daxing District. The 60 hectare park was once the imperial hunting grounds of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. It fell into disuse over the years, but in the last decade it has been redeveloped into an extensive park and nature reserve.

The park today encompasses lakes, ponds, waterways, grasslands and marsh: more than enough to while a day away. Picturesque bridges, pagodas and sculptures are sprinkled throughout.

But the main feature of Nanhaizi Park is David Deer Park, within it. Pere David Deer ("Milu," in Chinese) were classified as critically endangered in 1996, when they numbered less than 50, all in captivity. But thanks in part to conservation efforts in David Deer Park, their population now nears 500. The Pere David deer mix and mingle with a number of other deer species in a free range area that's over 500,000 square meters.

Thankfully the deer have enough space to roam, but of course this gives them the freedom to avoid people with their camera zoom lenses.

But David Deer Park caters to more than just deer; it is also favoured by a number of wild and captive birds. Emus and peacocks can be spotted strutting their stuff, while herons, and a variety of ducks make convenient pit stops at David Deer Park. Visitors are well-advised to bring their binoculars.

Autumn's chill is definitely setting in, providing birds all the more impetus to migrate south. Now is a good time to catch them in transit, while seizing the opportunity to appreciate a little history and nature conservation.

Before October 30th, foreigners in Beijing are encouraged to send their photos in to the Beijing Spirit in the Eyes of Foreign Friends competition. Details are at Grand prize winners will receive 10,000 yuan.

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