Endangered species in China (3)

15:30, June 24, 2010      

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"Yet it should not prohibit field acquisition for academic research," stresses Tang Zhaozi. In recent years, some animal conservationists have been questioning their practice. "Our field work is by no means the same as hunting. We just search for missing or unknown species and normally merely collect one for sample, which is far from influencing the ecosystem. A series of comprehensive specimens is not only a precious heritage for our country but the whole world."

"More than 60 percent of 287 types of birds in the city of Wuhan recorded by my father may not be found any longer. His ambition was to assemble all 1,300 kinds of birds in China and open a specialized museum in Beijing. That will be an elusive dream forever," he says.

Tang Zhaozi says he is delighted to share his knowledge for free when invited to address primary and high school students. His daughter has been encouraging him to compile his field work experience into a handbook, which would be more practical than an academic textbook.

Although the specimens' museums in Peking University and Sun Yat-sen University are no longer under the management of the Tang family, Tang Zhaozi has accepted his son Tang Jian's interest in carrying on the family skills, though with mixed feelings.

Tang Jian, a computer major, worked in Shenzhen for a decade. But he says the taxidermy talent runs in his blood and ultimately called him back to the family profession. Tang Jian's 3-year-old boy Tang Haoyang is also demonstrating an interest in the exhibits, but Tang Jian fears he will be the last practitioner of the family's art.

His uncle Tang Zhaohe in Fujian Normal University successfully applied for "Specimen Tang's animal sample making skill" to be listed as a provincial intangible cultural heritage last year. It has now been nominated for listing at the State-level.

The result brought hope, but Tang Jian is still not optimistic.

"We are awaiting the person who can revive the samples' worth," says Tang Jian, who has been waiting for funds for an online digital website for more than six years.

Source: China Daily


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(Editor:梁军)

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