A nationwide recruitment of volunteers will start at Hoh Xil Nature Reserve in northwest China's Qinghai Province next year to increase public awareness of the importance of wildlife protection. "There are no particular requirements for an applicant's age, gender or vocation, but we require good health and work attitude and a love of animals," said Cega, director of the Administrative Bureau of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve.
Hoh Xil Nature Reserve
The Hoh Xil Nature Reserve, founded in 1995, covers 45,000 square km at an average elevation of 4,600 meters. It is home to many rare species including the Tibetan antelope, the yak, wild donkey and other plateau animals.
Considering Hoh Xil's harsh natural conditions and frigid winter weather, volunteers will be on patrol only from June to August. Each team will be consisted of five or six volunteers and each volunteer will work in the mountains for about two weeks, Cega said.
Patrol teams made up of 60 bureau staff go into mountains several times a year to investigate the distribution and living conditions of endangered Tibetan antelopes and to fight against poaching.
Tibetan Antelope Protection
"The purpose of the current volunteer recruitment is not because we are shorthanded, but is to raise people's awareness of the importance of protecting the Tibetan antelope and to reject the use of products made from antelope wool as well as to denounce poaching and antelope trafficking," he added.
To protect the safety of volunteers, training courses on how to deal with wolf attacks and how to adapt to the plateau climate will be given before they are sent to mountains.
Unique in China
Tibetan antelopes are unique to China, falling into the category of animals subject to state first-class protection. They are part of the wildlife in Tibet.
In the 1980s, there were groups of 2,000 Tibetan antelopes. Today, it's rare to see a group of up to 100.
The sharp decrease in the Tibetan antelope population has alerted the central government and the government of the Tibet Autonomous Region to the fact that illegal hunting is rife in the region.
Significant efforts have been made and are still being made to stop this crime, to the great concern of the international community.
The Tibetan antelope looks like the Mongolian gazelle. It can also be referred to as an antelope or a long-horn sheep. Its Tibetan name is Zor. Body size: 1.4 meters long. Shoulder height: 70-80 cm. Weight: 40-50 kg. Head: Wide and long. Nose: Wide. In each of the nostrils is a breathing bag to help with breathing while running on the plateau. Horn: long, flat and shiny black.
Male Tibetan antelopes each have a pair of sharp, dark colored horns. The horns together look like a sword when viewed from the side. Tail: Short, with a sharp tip. Limbs: Thin. Two holes in the hind legs. When running, the holes make it possible for the leg skin to act as air bags. The Tibetan antelope runs at up to 80 km per hour. Back hair: Light brown. Neck, stomach and limb hair: White. Face: Dark on males and white on females. Body hair: Standing and all over.
Tibetan antelopes are timid, sensitive and curious. Their fierce natural environment forces the antelopes to be good at withstanding thirst and hunger. They are often not able to eat or drink for several days in a row. Tibetan antelopes move in groups ranging from dozens to several hundreds. They have no permanent residing homes, and instead roam around depending on the seasons and the availability of food.
(People’s Daily December 14, 2001)