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Extinct animal graveyard in Beijing
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Guo Geng permits students to experience how it would feel to be confined in a cage like animals.

According to Interpol data, smuggling wild animals around the world each year has reached US$15 billion, becoming the third most profitable smuggling activity after firearms and drugs.

In 1998 Guo Geng came to work at the Nanhaizi David's Deer Park in Beijing. A year later, this animal protector began to build a graveyard for extinct animals within this park. Many people began coming regularly to visit it on the day of Pure Brightness (April 4 or 5), a traditional Chinese festival for commemorating the dead.

More than one hundred tombstones in the David's Deer Park topple unto each other like dominoes over a space of more than 100 meters.  

Guo designed the tombstones in a domino pattern in order to demonstrate a natural law: the extinction of one species may trigger the extinction of dozens of related species.

During ancient geological eras, birds lost only one species every 300 years and animals lost one every 8000 years. But during the 18th century birds and animals on average lost one of their species respectively every 10 years and from the 19th century to the middle of 20th century, birds and animals lost one of their species each every year.

According to United Nations statistics, human activities have sped up the extinction of species by a thousand percent. The current speed is quite similar to that of the dinosaur extinction period. Experts estimate that 37 percent of the animal species on the planet will disappear by 2050.

Chinese Crested Terns Heading for Extinction

Since he built the graveyard, upon receiving a report for another newly extinct species, Guo would predict which species will follow next on the road to extinction. "More and more tombstones will be built here. The park may not be large enough to accommodate all the extinct animals," he said.

The Nanhaizi David's Deer Park covers a land of about 66 hectares. It is situated near the south fifth ring road in Beijing. This park is located where the wild David's deer died out. But fortunately in 1985, existing David's deer scattering around Europe were returned to China and resettled in this Park.

Real estate developers often disturb these rare animals and their tombstones with their names inscribed because they want to turn the Park into a villa area or a golf course. In Beijing this size of land now signifies an enormous profit. Because of this threat one of Guo Geng's responsibilities is to safeguard these memorials for extinct species.

All About wild animals

( by Zhang Ming'ai, December 20, 2007) 

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