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Antelope Protection Stepped Up

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2004/08/24; August 24, 2004.]

By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-25 01:29

A trans-regional patrol and anti-poaching mechanism will be set up to protect one of the country's most endangered species, the Tibetan antelope.

Forestry officials from Qinghai Province, Tibet and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions have agreed to establish an anti-poaching and information-sharing system. The agreement was signed recently in Xining, capital of Northwest China's Qinghai Province.

In the past two years, the adjoining area between Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang has become a haven for poachers to cull and smuggle Tibetan antelopes, said Cai Ga, director of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve Administrative Bureau.

China launched two national anti-poaching campaigns in 1999 and 2004, but antelope killing and smuggling remain rampant in the border area.

Taking the advantage of the geology of the locale, poachers have evaded patrols in the 600,000-square-kilometres of grassland in Hoh Xil Nature Reserve, the Altun Mountain and the Qiangtang Nature Reserve, where Tibetan antelopes are predominant, he said.

Starting from 2005, the three regions will organize anti-poaching blitzes at the above-mentioned fringe areas, said Zheng Jie, vice-director of the Qinghai Forestry Bureau.

During daily patrols, each side must follow and investigate poaching incidents and work with the other regions to solve cases.

The three regions started exchanging clues and information pertaining to Tibetan antelope smuggling this year, officials said.

Ruan Xiangdong, an official with the State Forestry Administration, said the Tibetan antelope is one of the 15 species in most need of protection in China.

Efforts will also be stepped up to study the migration and reproduction patterns of the Tibetan antelope, said Ruan.

Poaching of Tibetan antelope is fueled by international trade in "shahtoosh," the fine and soft shawl made of the antelope's wool, experts said.

A single shahtoosh shawl, priced at some US$18,000 in some Western nations, is reportedly made at the cost of three to five antelopes.

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