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Tibetan Antelope Tipped to Become Mascot of Beijing Olympics

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 05/03/28; March 28, 2005.]

Beijing, March 28 (PTI) - The highly-endangered Tibetan antelope is likely to pip giant panda and the south China tiger as the animal mascot of Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Tibetan antelope has entered the highly competitive race to be selected as the animal emblem of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The protected animal is seen as fully reflecting the spirit of the Olympics, and will help create "a green, people's and scientific" Olympic Games, officials and experts said yesterday as a debate rages nation-wide, 'China Daily' reported.

"As a unique animal of China, the Tibetan antelope is a beautiful animal surviving in the harsh area from 4,000 to 5,500 mtrs above sea level which is part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau known as the 'area forbidden to mankind'," Qinghai Province vice-governor, Ma Peihua said.

But there is stiff competition in the form of the giant panda, the south China tiger, and the Monkey King - the beloved character from the classic work "Journey to the West," the report said.

Insiders say the emblem may be composed of two or three images. In Sydney in 2000 the emblem featured three animals, and there were two for this summer's Athens Games.

Over one million Tibetan antelope used to live in the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau 100 years ago, says director of the management bureau of the Hoh Xil State Nature Reserve, Cai Ga.

Their numbers dropped drastically to about 20,000 in the 1980s and 90s due to poaching for luxurious shahtoosh shawls made of the animal's fur. But the population has increased to 50,000 following a decade of protection efforts, he said.


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