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Tibetan Antelopes Face Threat to Survival

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2003/12/01; December 1, 2003.]

by Zhang Tingting and Daragh Moller, November 30, 2003
China Internet Information Center

Tibetan antelopes, one of the world-level endangered species, are now facing three major threats of survival, according to sources from the Science and Technology Department of northwest China's Qinghai Province.

A research group dedicated to studying Tibetan antelope's biology and artificial reproduction and propagating technology -- a state scientific and technological program -- formally started work in November 2002 in Hoh Xil.

Through one year's effort, the researchers found that Tibetan antelopes and other wild animals in Hoh Xil are threatened by three factors. First, hunting of the animal has not stopped. From March to May this year alone, Hoh Xil witnessed three poaching events, in which 790 pregnant females and six male Tibetan antelopes were killed.

Second, as grazing land is increasingly enlarged, more and more herdsmen have moved from the buffer zones into the core areas of the nature reserve. Consequently, the living space for wild animals has shrunk.

Third, global warming has accelerated the melting of glaciers and the rising of water levels in nature reserves. The rising temperature accelerates desertification in large areas. These changes may cause the spread of certain epidemic diseases which will result in an increase of the natural death rate of wildlife populations. In addition, decreased food resources have intensified competition between varied wildlife species, dwindling their population number.

The research group mainly investigated the number and distribution of Tibetan antelopes in Hoh Xil area in the past year. In a sphere of about 1,100 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide, they spotted 831 Tibetan antelopes altogether with an average density of 0.19 per square kilometers. There are comparatively more Tibetan antelopes in the north western part of the nature reserve and along the Qumar River where a flock numbering over 300 could be seen. The number of antelopes found in Budong Spring-Tuotuo River section of the Qinghai-Tibet railway line is moderate; while few antelope could be seen around the Zhuonai Lake in the nature reserve's northeastern part, which was once a major habitat for the animal.

The program on Tibetan antelopes is jointly implemented by the Institute of Northwest Highland Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Qinghai Forestry Administration and the Hoh Xil State Nature Reserve Administration.

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