Formosan sika deer introduced to Lukang as tourist attraction

Lukang, an old township rich with folk culture in central Taiwan, is seeking to boost tourism with Formosan sika deer, the animal in its name, which translates as “the port of deer” in English.

Six Formosan sika deer aged between six and 18 months will be displayed at the Lukang Osmanthus Alley Artist Village from Saturday, township chief Haung Chen-yen (黃振彥) announced on Friday.

“Meeting with deer” will be part of the township’s winter tour festival from Oct. 29 to Dec. 10, with tourists invited to visit the animals on a lawn in front of the tourist service center of the artist village, Huang said.

He explained that the township office introduced the deer to Lukang in the hope of having “its name match reality.”

Based on historical records, Lukang got its name during the Qing Dynasty, Huang said, and academic studies on the origin of the name suggest that the name was given by early immigrants from China, who saw often herds of deer in the area.

Because Formosan sika deer, an endemic species, once thrived on Taiwan’s plains and in low-altitude mountainous areas in the west, there are many places there named after deer, including Lukang, Huang added.

The measure of bringing deer into the township to help promote local tourism, however, was not approved by local historical worker Chiang Min-chuan (蔣敏全), who was cited by the United Daily News as saying that “Lukang does not lack tourists but lacks tour quality.”

“This kind of policy, formulated without going through culture and biology discourses, is adding an outside culture to culture-rich Lukang,” Chiang criticized.

However, Huang said the six deer were brought to Lukang not just for the sake of the name, but also in the hope that children can learn how to treat animals properly and respect life through interacting with the deer.

He urged tourists to respect the rules for visiting the deer, and to refrain from feeding or hitting them.

Lukang was an economic and transport hub of central Taiwan in earlier times. It is known for being one of three ancient towns of Taiwan other than Tainan and Mengjia (today Wanhua District in Taipei).

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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