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Western Provinces Join Hands to Protect Antelopes
Three independent Tibetan antelope protection associations in west China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, and Qinghai Province are striving to reach a cooperative approach on protecting Tibetan antelopes. They will also collaborate on scientific research and functional construction and promotion of reservations, in a bid to better protect one of the world’s most endangered animals.

The Altun Mountain Reserve of Xinjiang, Qinghai’s Hoh Xil Reserve, and Qiangtang Reserve are three main ranges supporting Tibetan antelope populations. The three reserves are connected, occupying a total area of more than 600,000 square km.

Tibetan antelopes, a species particular to China, inhabit the mainly de-populated zones of the Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang plateau. The antelopes are safeguarded under the state’s highest-level of protection, and have also been listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Due to rampant poaching, the total number of Tibetan antelopes has declined dramatically from several million earlier last century to around just 70,000 at present.

As early as April 1999, China’s State Forestry Administration organized the three provinces of Xinjiang, Qinghai and Tibet to join forces in an effort to launch a “No.1 Hoh Xil Action” program, aimed at bringing an end to the poaching of Tibetan antelopes. As a result of the program, poaching activities have been curbed to some extent.

“The three provinces will combine their efforts in not only targeting poachers, but also in the promotion of information, communication, and scientific research,” said Li Weidong, chief of the administrative department of Altun Mountain Reserve of Xinjiang.

As the three reserves are connected to each other, the Tibetan antelopes, lambing near the Muztag Mountain of Xinjiang, come from both the Altun Reserve and Qiangtang Reserve. It is thought that the Tibetan antelopes in each reserve are not bound to any particular clan or domain, and are therefore likely to roam freely throughout the three reservations.

“Therefore, it’s necessary for the administrative agencies of three reserves to join their efforts,” said Li Weidong, adding that “Tibetan antelopes, as well as poachers, are not concerned with provincial boundaries.”

The female Tibetan antelope has an unusual habit of congregating in large numbers during mating season. They then go to regular places and breed together. According to current survey results, the foot of Muztag Mountain in Xinjiang, the Zhuonai Lake area in Qinghai, and Taiyang Lake area in Tibet are the major lambing locations for female Tibetan antelopes.

Vice-director of the State Environmental Protection Administration’s Protective Department of Natural Ecology Wang Dehui said, “Cooperation between the three reserves will boost research on the Tibetan antelopes’ living and breeding habits, as well as the preservation of their habitat.”

Li Weidong added that the administrative associations of the three reserves will enhance the communication of information related to Tibetan antelopes by way of the Internet and other communications media, and carry out combined law enforcement to patrol the increasing number of illegal activities directed at animals.

(china.org.cn translated by Zhang Tingting, October 31, 2002)

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