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China Calls For International Cooperation To Protect Tibetan Antelope

BEIJING, Jun 16, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) China has called for international cooperation in its struggle to protect the endangered Tibetan antelope, official media said Tuesday.

"There has been increased illegal hunting and smuggling of the animal because of the profits involved from sales abroad," Chen Jianwei, vice-director of the State Forestry Administration's wildlife conservation department, told Xinhua news agency.

"International understanding and cooperation is needed to better protect the animal," Chen said, calling on other countries to stop trading in or consuming the Tibetan antelope.

The Tibetan antelope is under top protection in China because of its value in research of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau's ecological system.

It is native to the grasslands of Qinghai province and the Xinjiang and Tibetan autonomous regions.

The animal's hide produces the "king of wool" and has been sold illegally since the early 1990s. Shawls, called shahtoosh, made from the animal's hair can fetch as much as 10,000 dollars on the world market, Xinhua said.

Chinese wildlife specialists estimate that the number of Tibetan antelopes has fallen to some 50,000 because of the poaching, it said.


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