Are there moose in China



Alces alces alces

During the Ice Ages, the moose was rare in Central Europe. Finds of bones and antlers only become more common in the Middle Stone Age (Azilia). The number of fossil finds from later times is great. They prove that the elk was native to all of Central Europe thousands of years ago. In the post-glacial period until the beginning of the Middle Ages, the elk was common in Europe as far as the Alps and even the Åland Islands.

There is not much evidence from ancient times that can be reliably related to the elk. A clear indication are grave goods from the Scythians. In the barrows of these riders you can find many original works of art in addition to horse, wolf and eagle, also with the moose. The Scythians were a nomadic people from eastern Iran. Around the 8th century BC They immigrated from the Central Asian steppes to the area north of the Black Sea between the Carpathian Mountains and the Don and in the 6th century BC they immigrated. They advanced into what is now Romania. The original art of these equestrian nomads indicates, on the one hand, that they knew the elk well and, on the other hand, that their home must have been on the edge of the northern European forest belt. It is believed that they came from the region around the Altai Mountains on the border with China.

The oldest written record about the elk, which can be seen as evidence of its occurrence in Central or Western Europe, is a message from Polybius, a Greek historian (around 140 BC). The original has not been preserved, but it is in the version of the Greek geographer and historian Strabo (64 BC - around 20 AD), who continued the work of Polybius: "In the Alps there are also wild horses and But Polybius reports that they also contain a specially designed animal, which is deer-like in appearance and resembles the wild boar only in terms of its neck and hair, and under the chin there is an approximately span-long pin that is hairy at the end and about the thickness of a horse's tail. "

Caesar reported (around 53 BC) in his "De bello gallico" that there were "Alces" in the Hercynian forest. The scientific name of the moose is still that today. They are similar to goats in their appearance and the bright color of their fur, but they have no horns and legs, and they are much larger than goats. That's why they couldn't lie down to sleep, but leaned against trees. But if by any chance they fell over, they could not get up again. When the hunters found out on the basis of the tracks on which trees the elk used to rest in this way, they either buried the roots or sawed the trunks. As soon as the animals leaned against themselves to sleep, the trees fell and with them the moose. For the original Latin version see Amusements / Curiosities.

In Pliny (23 - 79 AD) in his natural history (Naturalis Historia) it says: "In the north there is also the alce, which apart from the length of the ears and neck resembles a young bull; but also comes from Scandinavia Achlis, never seen in Rome, but often mentioned, which is similar to the alce, but has stiff hind legs and therefore does not lie down to sleep, but leans against a tree; so it can be captured by cunning by cutting the tree, although it is otherwise from It is remarkably quick-footed; but its upper lip is extraordinarily large, so that the achlis has to go backwards when grazing, so as not to be hindered by it when walking forwards. "

Today the European elk occurs in larger populations in the European part of Russia, in the Urals, western Siberia eastwards to the Yenisei, Altai, in Belarus, the Baltic states and with the exception of Gotland and Denmark in all of Scandinavia. In Russia you can find it in all 11 time zones.

© Maren and Uwe Kamke 2000-2020