|2009.02.20 14:50||2009.02.20 14:50 | Eco-system Conservation|
Finding an Answer the Maps Never Tell You
Walking along with the Footprints of the Gorals in Uljin, Samcheok, and Bonghwa in 2007
Over the dark and damp ravines the cold sun is rising up for today as usual.
The rocky mountains and ravines where you live always make me tense.
I am not that a person who doesn’t know what hearts and tears are like, though.
I cannot help but having an apathy to objectify you whenever I go to meet you in the fields.
Hence, I feel always something guilty
for I take you as a mere object.
Beyond silences over my silences, you are there.
Could I ever dare to embrace your frostbitten hearts and sorrows with grey blooded spirit and body of myself.
From the Fieldwork Diaries on the Habitats of the Gorals
(Punggok-ri Gagok-myeon Samcheok-si Kangwon-do. February 2007
Context: The Stories on A Small Goat with a Long Tail in the Forest
The gorals with a long tail, horns and two hoofs feed on grasses, various berries and leaves and inhabit rocks and ridges in the deep mountains where they can protect themselves from their enemies. They tend to stay at one place within a small range of habitat. They excrete in one place at once. The fecal shape looks like a capsule in green black. Gorals have been designated as many different names describing its state in danger such as Vulnerable species by IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources), the Appendix I by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), the Natural Monument NO. 217 by The Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, and Category No. 1 in the endangered species of wildlife by the Ministry of Environment in Korea, and Gorals (Nermorhedus Caudatus: the literal meaning of the scientific name refers to 'A small goat with a long tail in the forest') inhabit the rugged mountainous terrain over China, Laos, Russia, Thailand and Korean peninsula. The species are divided into four subspecies. Korean gorals are close to Russian gorals as one of the four subspecies in terms of the genetic aspect. The Nermorhedus Caudatus Raddeanus are widespread in northeast Asia, from Amur and Usuri in Russia, the northeast part of China to the Baekdu-daegan in Korea. As the Korean Peninsula was bisected in two parts, Korean wild gorals also were forced to be separated into the north and the south. According to the Red Book of DPR Korea by the UNESCO-MAB Programme, the gorals in the north are known to have lived in Geumgangsan, Odaesan, Chunmasan, Myohyangsan, Chunjinsan, Nyungsan, Goksan, Daegaksan, Jagang-do Potaesan and Gwoanmobong mountains. Currently, in the south the traces of the species are rarely witnessed only in the Demilitarised Zone and in the mountain areas located at the upper parts of Kangwon-do and Kyongsang-bukdo., but any scientific research on the national population of the gorals in Korea has never fully conducted yet.
The most threatening factors against wild animals all over the world including gorals are the decreases and fragmentations of the natural habitats. Gorals live in the remote area far from the boundary line to where people can approach and interfere. If the habitats are fragmented under the name of land developments such as constructions of roads, mines, power lines, and facilities for tourists, then there will be no place for gorals to live in any more. Further, it is almost impossible to restore the habitats of gorals once they get devastated since gorals mostly depend upon the rocks of mountainous terrain as the habitats.
Gorals have been designated by the Ministry of Environment in Korea as the second species for the national ecological restoration project of the endangered species in Mt. Wolrak following the first project with the Asiatic black bears in Mt. Jiri since 2006. However, what on earth would it mean to restore the species after all the wild gorals would go extinct? At this moment, to conserve the existing wild gorals and the habitats with community people is the most critical concern in the conservation of the species.
You live there on the border between Punggok-ri Gagok-myeon Samcheok-si in Gangwon-do and Sogwang-ri Seo-myeon Uljin-gun in Gyeongsang-bukdo. Deep in the snow fell mountains, through the frozen valleys, I walked at dawn tracing the signs of your harsh lives you might have left. Standing still looking at the dark steep mountains, I read today’s journey in advance, which would definitely be rugged and long…… I got lost and wandered in the white snowed mountain. My heavy panting in the waist deep snow at the heart of mountains was the only sound breaking the silence around me. The darkness was slowly coming down with white snow falling. I never imagine that snow which used to mean the symbol of romance in the civilised world, could be something scaring me a lot. I didn’t know darkness and coldness can be the absolute fear. A moment seemed an eternity. The moment would keep forever. As I made steps forward, weights of darkness were being deepened along. I kept walking for a while and hardly found a way down to the village in a dim evening. As I look up to the sky being dyed into blackish red in the calmly scattered snowflake, tears of deep sorrow shed down from my eyes.
From the Fieldwork Diaries on the Habitats of the Gorals February. 2006
The Research Outline on Gorals in Uljin, Samcheok and Bonghwa in 2007
Uljin-gun, Bonghwa-gun in Kyeongsan-bukdo and Samcheok-si in Kangwon-do are ecological zones which are connected to one another with deep valleys and high mountains which are highly recognised as the biological and cultural diversity of wild animals and plants. In 2007, the research outlined the research space by ecological borders with mountains and streams of Eungbongsan, Sibiryeong, Agusan and Saedeuksan to the east, Baekbyeongsan, Seokgaejae, Satgatjae, Omisan and Tonggosan to the west, Gagokcheon to the north, and Gwangcheon to the south. The research challenges to investigate the threatening factors against gorals and to monitor changes of the habitats since GKU conducted the first research on the habitats of the gorals in the areas in 2003.
All the signs and traces collected from the fieldworks are critical data as researchers hardly approach wild animals by way of direct observations in most cases. Every data observed from shapes, smells, contents, colors and textures of the scats, and hairs, footprints, barkings, feeding traces, resting traces at the fields are primary to collect and synthesise for the outcome of the research. The feces of gorals are similar to those of the Artiodactyla such as roe deer, water deer, and goats. The hairs of gorals look like those of wild boars, raccoon dogs, goats and roe deer. Therefore, it is very important to observe and record the information on the fieldwork diaries concerning what the specimen is like, where the specimen is found, how is the vegetation around it, how the environments are, and what the surroundings in details are. For example, where the specimen is discovered from, what trees and plants are around it, how the surrounding is, whether the feces is found in pile, how the footprint is like, how the barkings look like, and whether there are any feeding signs or resting signs or barking signs. All the information should be recorded with notes in cameras, GPS(Global Positioning Systems)s, maps and field diaries as possibly as it can be because the information from the field could be hard to obtain again if the area gets deconstructed one day.
Throughout the research, the traces of gorals were relatively often seen at open cliffs and ridges, where pine and oak trees are predominant. The farther and the less accessible place for the people the habitats were located, the larger sites of the feces in accumulations and the more recent specimens were found. However, at the places where the lands were used heavily and intensively as farming, hunting, roads, power lines and other facilities, the traces of wildlife were rarely found. Gorals have been often observed in Uljin, Samcheok and Bonghwa where the access is hard enough just to keep the ecological diversity at the moment, but it means that the pressures of developments are relatively high from inside and outside of the local communities as well.
In reality, any legal species of the protections here malfunction in implementations as cases all around the nation. Several development projects such as on 910 and 36 provincial roads, power lines of Uljin Nuclear Power Station -Taebak and Uljin-Youngju penetrate deep inside the areas fragmenting huge parts of its natural habitats of wildlife and communities here where the gorals whose legal status is designated as the first class of endangered species. Moreover, another recent new development plans even put the future of gorals at risk. The local government announced that the on-going construction of the 917 provincial road between Sangdang-ri and Ducheon-ri in Buk-myeon Uljin-gun would be extended to Sogwang-ri in Seo-myeon Uljin-gun where the ciritical habitats of gorals. It was noted that the 154kW of power line from Uljin to Bonghwa would be constructed and the 36 national road would be expanded widely between Seo-myeon Uljin to Geunnam-myeon. As it is highly expected that the main trekking route of Nakdongjeongmaek which has not been legally accessible in full so far would be designated as a national trekking course by the Korea Forest Service and open to the public, then the ecologies, and the fates of the gorals should confront a critical situation in danger. If the existing legal systems could not save the legally endangered species, then what other ways could really save the gorals indeed?
From the Fieldwork Diaries on the Habitats of the Gorals, December 2007
The Answer the Maps Never Tell You
I went deep into the forests to meet gorals. However, it didn’t echo anything in the world.
… Local people say ”Environmentalism, Conservation… what does it mean to us? I just manage to live every day.” "This is such a hard place even to go to a hospital and a cinema.", "Environmental movements and conserving wild animals… are out of my business actually in reality " “You can stay here with us if you are willing to stand all these wild and inconvenient lives."…
Where could I find the answer to save the gorals? Where is the answer?...... On the way back to the office in Seoul, I rather had more questions than answers. For the community people, the natures and gorals are just part of everyday lives that they have seen, listened and felt from since they were born. Accordingly, there are none who could know the values of the gorals and their habitats more than the community people. I walked along the painful traces of gorals. I just felt that I could find a way to save the gorals in the far forests. I believed that there was the answer to save the gorals in the completely detached world of nature from the civilisation. However, I realise that there was only half of the answer. I didn’t try to embrace the painful lives of the people there. I could not read the sufferings of the people beyond the trees of the forests.
Thus, now I am leaving for another travel to find the other half of the answer.
The answer does not exist on the map at all as it must be found somewhere in the hearts of the
The answer the maps never tell you indeed.