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|Thursday, April 26, 2001, updated at 09:03(GMT+8)|
Peking Man Heritage Site Facing RuinedAlready suffered the loss of six valuable intact skulls during World War II, the Zhoukoudian Peking Man Ruins now saw damages due to cave sliding.
The World Heritage Site, where the first skull of Peking Man dating back to 500,000 years ago was discovered, is now at the risk of being ruined.
The Beijing northwest suburb site stores the evidence of the earliest human's use of fire and is known as the only site of continuous prehistoric man activities between 500,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Dr. Zhu Ming, director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that all sites have been exposed in the air since the excavation half century ago.
There are holes made by local bees on the stratum section of the cave, portions of the upper cave has been rushed by rain and weeds and bushes have almost covered the Ape Man Cave.
Meanwhile, the repair work of the Zhoukoudian Museum was stopped for lacking of money. The museum, reluctantly, has been closed for seven months.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will come to China and review all sites listed on the World Heritage this year. Any site listed before 1994 with improper protection or serious damage will be ranked as an endangered heritage.
Insiders say China's first addition to World Heritage will be removed if no immediate action is taken to protect the Zhoukoudian Ruins.
Zhu Ming, whose institution is in charge of the site, attributed the declining situation in Zhoukoudian to insufficient financing. He said that his institution has never received any special funds for the culture relics protection and maintenance since the site was founded.
Plus with the income from tickets, his institute is only able to pay for the salary of working staff there and maintain the museum and ruins opening to the public.
In contrast, it costs 60,000 yuan (US$7,220) to weed the Ape Man Cave and 3 to 5 million yuan (US$361,000 to US$602,000) to repair the museum and rearrange the exhibits.
Meanwhile, there are a number of small cement factories near the site. The pollutants also contributed to the damage, in addition to the natural disasters. "It is impossible to close them right now," said the director.
Zhu Ming said his institution has managed to form a protection commission and tried to raise funds from overseas but failed.
Zhu hoped that the public and society will be aware of the damage and lend a hand to protect the site.
The Zhoukoudian Ruins keeps the richest materials of prehistoric man's site in the world. He believed that sound protection will help further the research on the development process of human ancestors.
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