A Chinese investigation found that the distribution density of Tibetan antelopes, also known as chiru, in the southwest of Qinghai Province in 1986 was 0.2-0.3 head per square kilometer and herds numbering more than 2,000 could be found in 1991 in the east of the Changtang Nature Reserve. In 1994, the estimated number of Tibetan antelope inhabiting the Kunlun Mountain area was about 43,700. While according to the research of Dr. George Schaller, vice chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Society, the total number of the animal had decreased dramatically to 50,000-75,000 by 1995 and the number is continuing to drop. In recent years, nobody has seen them in herds of 2,000.
In 1996, the Tibetan antelope was listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). This listing was upgraded to “endangered’ in 2000. The species has also been listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1979.
China became party to CITES in 1981 and any trade or commercial import and export of chiru and its products have been prohibited since then. The animal is given protection by the country under its Law on the Protection of Wildlife and is listed as the country’s first-level protected wildlife.
To better protect the Tibetan antelope and other endangered animals on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Chinese government has set up three state-level nature reserves on the plateau – Altun Mountain, Changtang, and Hoh Xil nature reserves.
Trade is also prohibited in India under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, except for two states, Jammu and Kashmir, which are afforded special status.
(www.animalinfo.org, China.org.cn, November 17, 2005)