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Across Mongolian Plains by Roy Chapman Andrews

In summer the sika is the most beautiful of all deer


summer the sika is the most beautiful of all deer. Its bright red body, spotted with white, is, when seen among the green leaves of the forest, one of the loveliest things in nature. We wished to obtain a group of these splendid animals for the new Hall of Asiatic Life in the American Museum of Natural History, but the specimens had to be in perfect summer dress.

My hunter was disgusted beyond expression when I refused to shoot the deer. The antlers of the sika when in the velvet are of greater value to the natives than those of any other species. A good pair of horns in full velvet sometimes sells for as much as $450. The growing antlers are called _shueh-chiao_ (blood horns) by the Chinese, who consider them of the highest efficacy as a remedy for certain diseases: Therefore, the animals are persecuted relentlessly and very few remain even in the _Tung Ling_.

The antlers of the wapiti are also of great value to the native druggists, but strangely enough they care little for those of the moose and the roebuck. Hundreds of thousand of deerhorns are sent from the interior provinces of China to be sold in the large cities, and the complete extermination of certain species is only a matter of a few decades. Moreover, the female elk, just before the calving season, receive unmerciful persecution, for it is believed that the unborn fawns have great medicinal properties.

Since the

roebuck at the _Tung Ling_ were in the same condition as the sika, they were useless for our purposes. The goral, however, which live high up on the rocky peaks, had not begun to shed their hair, and they gave us good shooting. One beautiful morning Smith killed a splendid ram just above our camp. We had often looked at a ragged, granite outcrop, sparsely covered with spruce and pine trees, which towered a thousand feet above us. We were sure there must be goral somewhere on the ridge, and the hunters told us that they had sometimes killed them there. It was a stiff climb, and we were glad to rest when we reached the summit. The old hunter placed Smith opposite an almost perpendicular face of rock and stationed me beyond him on the other side. Three beaters had climbed the mountain a mile below us and were driving up the ridge.

For half an hour I lay stretched out in the sun luxuriating in the warmth and breathing in the fragrant odor of the pines. While I was lazily watching a Chinese green woodpecker searching for grubs in a tree near by, there came the faintest sound of a loosened pebble on the cliff above my head. Instantly I was alert and tense. A second later Smith's rifle banged once. Then all was still.

In a few moments he shouted to me that he had fired at a big goral, but that it had disappeared behind the ridge and he was afraid it had not been hit. The old hunter, however, had seen the animal scramble into a tiny grove of pine trees. As it had not emerged, I was sure the goral was wounded, and when the men climbed up the cliff they found it dead, bored neatly through the center of the chest.

Gorals, sika, and roebuck are by no means the only big game animals in the _Tung Ling_. Bears and leopards are not uncommon, and occasionally a tiger is killed by the natives. Among other species is a huge flying squirrel, nearly three feet long, badgers, and chipmunks, a beautiful squirrel with tufted ears which is almost black in summer and now is very rare, and dozens of small animals. But perhaps most interesting of all the creatures of these noble forests are the only wild monkeys to be found in northeastern China.

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