As the sunset glow envelops the Hoh Xil, the inner land of the 'roof of the world' of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, flocks of Tibetan antelopes move leisurely and lightly in the golden rays on their migration along the newly built Qinghai-Tibet Railway. They are moving towards the Zhuonai and Taiyang lakes to give birth to their offspring.
This is an everyday scene near by the construction site of the newly-built railway and passageways have been built to help wildlife in the area to migrate. "From June 10, more than 200 Tibetan antelopes have passed through the passageway near the Qumar River," said Shi Jiaming, who is in charge of the Qumar section of the railway. "At the beginning, these antelopes felt unaccustomed to the area and walked here hesitantly. But soon they found the passageway and began to migrate freely."
Tibetan antelopes are among the world's rarest and most precious animals, and unique to China. The female antelopes gather in flocks in spring and summer and migrate and trek in large groups to cub near the Zhuonai and Taiyang lakes where the weather is cool, water plentiful and grass lush. They return with their offspring a month or so later.
The Wudaoliang-Qumar section of the railway is the route the migrating antelopes must take. To ensure their free migration, the railway construction unit built special wildlife passageways. These passageways include an 11.7-km Qingshui River Bridge and the 4-km Qumar Bridge. Beneath the bridges are nearly 3,000 bridge openings, which allow the antelope to pass through. The bridges also solve the difficulty of railway construction on the frozen earth of the plateau.
The construction unit of this section of the railway has carefully cleared the construction site of the passageways and restored their original eco-look since June. In addition, they formed a patrol team for wildlife protection. During the migrating period, they suspend construction, control construction vehicles and reduce the honking sounds from the vehicles to guarantee the smooth migration of the Tibetan antelopes.
According to General Commander Lu Chunfang of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the design of the railway has tried its best to make a detour around the state natural reserves. The constructors have reduced the noise which might alarm the animals and have built altogether 25 passageways near the Qinghai Hoh Xil and Tibet Qiangtang natural reserves.
The passageways follow two forms: one, to build bridges where the wild animals come to and where they can pass underneath. The other, to build an overpass above the railway as their passage.
Cai Ga, director of the Hoh Xil Natural Reserve Administration, said advice and suggestions are solicited from local herdsmen when deciding the number and locations of these special passageways. Moreover, experts of wild animal protection have also been consulted. The passageways take consideration of the wild animal's habits of water drinking and migration.
(China.org.cn by Guo Xiaohong June 19, 2003)