There are a total of 149,930 Tibetan antelopes in northwestern China’s Tibet Autonomous Region distributed throughout an area of 698,000 square kilometers around 103 towns of 18 counties, said a report by People’s Daily on June 30. According to the report, the number of the antelopes increased annually by 7.9 percent between 1999 and 2005.
The figures are results of an 18-year long biological and ecological study into Tibetan Antelopes resident in Tibet which was conducted by the Survey and Planning Institute under the Tibet Forestry Bureau.
The study covered the living environment of the antelopes, their distribution, natural enemies, feeding habits, population density, herd structure, migration patterns, birth rates and the increase in their numbers.
According to the Southwest Information Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the research has been domestically unprecedented in terms of comprehensiveness.
According to a 60,000-Chinese-characters long report on the research, the habitat areas of Tibetan antelopes begin in Ladakh, India in the west, and stretch 1,600 kilometers eastward to end near Ngoring Lake in Qinghai after passing through Tibet and the southern tip of Xinjiang. The distribution area in Tibet covers 698,000 square kilometers of which 449,700 square kilometers are the habitats.
The migration of Tibetan antelopes is influenced by climate and natural resources such as pasture and water. However, their movements have a pattern. In cold weather they move to areas of lower altitude and higher temperatures and do the reverse when it’s warm. Areas with plentiful water supplies and grass and low mountain paths were found to be frequently on the antelopes’ migration routes. In late autumn they gather on level terrain for mating.
Liu Wulin, chief of the research and ex-director of the Survey and Planning Institute, said that no professional appraisal of the antelope numbers had been done before and all past research had suggested 120,000 as a likely figure. Liu’s calculation used theories of biological and mathematical statistics. He divided the Tibetan antelope’s life pattern into a “dynamic season” and a “relatively fixed season”. The result shows that the total number of Tibetan antelopes actually in Tibet stands at 149,930. The figure comes from the average of the animal’s numbers in dynamic and fixed seasons which are 125,601 and 174,259 respectively.
The average annual increase in numbers of the animal from 1989 to 2005 is 6.6 percent, and 7.9 percent from 1999 to 2005.
The research began in 1987 and ended in 2005. The surveying route ran 80,425 kilometers and covered 710,000 square kilometers. Program researchers got firsthand information through observation and visiting the habitats.
The Tibetan antelope is one of the world’s endangered species and comes under China’s first-level protection. It has also been listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1979. One of the Mascots for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games unveiled last year embodies the Tibetan antelope. This choice reflects Beijing’s commitment to a Green Olympics.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Tinging, July 7, 2006)