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Number of Tibetan Antelopes Dwindles to Between 70,000 and 100,000

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2006/03/13; March 13, 2006.]

BEIJING, March 13 (AFP) - The number of China's endangered Tibetan antelopes has dwindled to as little as 70,000 due to excessive poaching and destruction of their habitats, a Chinese lawmaker says.

The population of the endangered species has fallen from about one million a century ago to between 70,000 and 100,000, Xinhua news agency quoted legislator Abdulla Abbas from northwest China's Xinjiang province as saying.

One of the main reasons for their decline is international traffickers using their fur to make shahtoosh shawls, Abbas said. The shawls sell for up to 15,000 dollars each in upscale boutiques in Europe and elsewhere.

Abbas called for strict protection of a new Tibetan antelope breeding base in the western part of Kunlun Mountains in China's far northwest Xinjiang region, where about 4,000 to 4,500 female antelopes have given birth to lambs.

"We should take prompt measures to protect the new breeding place, since it has not been under any protection yet," said the university professor on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, the annual parliamentary session.

Tibetan antelopes live in an area of more than 700,000 square kilometers (280,000 square miles) across Xinjiang, Qinghai province and Tibet in China's west.

Tibetan antelopes have been protected under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species since 1979 and have been listed as Class-A protected wildlife in China's W ildlife Protection Law since 1988.

The Tibetan antelope is believed to have numbered about one million at the turn of the 20th century, but fell to about 100,000 animals in the mid-1990s.


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