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Qinghai Closes Nature Reserve

Date: 12/30/1999

Author: XIE CHUANJIAO, China Daily staff

Copyright(c) by China Daily. (China Daily is a government of China's newspaper.)

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/01/04. Compiled by Compiled by Nima Dorjee]

XINING: The Qinghai provincial government in Northwest China has decided to close the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve on January 1, 2000, to protect its rare wildlife resources.

All unpermitted activities within the nature reserve will be considered illegal, according to Cai Ga, director of the State Hoh Xil Natural Reserve Protection Bureau.

No one can enter the nature reserve without getting permission from the State Forestry Administration.

The 45,000-square-kilometre nature reserve, which lies between Northwest China's Qinghai Province and the Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions, has been plundered by poachers and illegal gold prospectors during the last few years.

More than 1,000 people are suspected of entering the nature reserve illegally this year, in search of gold or to poach wild animals, particularly Tibetan antelopes, damaging the local ecology and natural resources of the area.

"The ban will improve administration of the area; any intruders will be punished," said Lu Wenzheng from Qinghai Agricultural and Forestry Administration in an telephone interview.

The nature reserve, located 5,000 metres above sea level on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has abundant gold resources, and is home to more than 20 rare species under State protection, including yaks and the Tibetan antelope.

Hoh Xil is the only place in the world where large numbers of Tibetan antelopes congregate because of its special habitat.

"Every year around July or August, flocks of antelope gather here to breed because the lake water and grass here are well-suited for the antelopes."

However, the antelope is facing a threat of extinction because of massive illegal poaching. There is a great demand for their underwool, used to make an expensive shawl called a shahtoosh.

Records indicate the Hoh Xil Natural Reserve had been well protected prior to the 1980s. There were more than 100,000 antelopes in Hoh Xil at that time. An estimated 20,000 Tibetan antelope have been killed annually. Today there are only about 50,000 Tibetan antelopes left, local sources said.

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