China, Britain and India will cooperate in an international campaign to save endangered Tibetan antelopes by cracking down on the trade in shahtoosh wool. This international effort seeks to halt the trade at the sites of capture, production and sale.
Without this drive, the Tibetan antelope will become extinct in five years, according to the results of an eight-month joint investigation into the illegal trade of Tibetan antelope.
The results were released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on June 27 in Beijing, London and Delhi.
Delegates from China’s government departments and environmental non-governmental organizations, Britain’s law enforcement organizations and India’s fashion designers all expressed their determination to strengthen protection.
With international cooperation, illegal poaching declined in the first half of this year.
Inhabiting in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibetan antelopes, which are under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, number under 75,000, down from several million a century ago.
They were being killed at a rate of 20,000 per year, mainly due to the large demand for shahtoosh shawls in Western markets since the 1980s, according to Grace Ge Gabriel, country director of IFAW in China.
The Chinese government has exerted great efforts to protect Tibetan antelope since 1981, according to sources from the State Forestry Bureau.
All commercial exports involving Tibetan antelope and antelope-related products have been prohibited in China, according to Wang Weisheng, an official in charge of wild animal protection with the bureau.
In addition, China has opened three nature reserves in the antelope’s habitat and appointed special protection agencies to regularly patrol the mountains to fight against illegal hunting.
Since last year, the administration has allocated a special fund for the protection of the antelope, including 2 million yuan (US$241,250) to improve the equipment of the region’s police stations, according to Cao Zhen, vice-director of the forest police bureau.
The Chinese officials vowed to continue to fight against the illegal poaching, smuggling, manufacturing and sale of antelope products.
The British law enforcement departments pledged to implement tougher fines and penalties for those charged with the illegal trade or possession of shahtoosh. This promise was echoed by several countries, including China, India, Italy and the United States, in a joint announcement made in Xining, the capital city of northwest China’s Qinghai Province.
IFAW also advised China, Nepal, India, EU countries and other possible shatoosh consuming countries to vigorously enforce relevant endangered species protection laws.
“When you wear this shawl you are not proclaiming how rich and privileged you are, you are merely making a statement about your insensitivity and willingness to cause death,” warned Maneka Gandhi, minister of state for social justice and empowerment of India.