Three poachers of Tibetan antelopes, a highly-endangered species, have been sentenced to jail in southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region, the local government said Thursday.
Lisang and Sangqog, two principals of the case, were sentenced to 13 years in jail and another poacher, Dainqoi, was given four years of imprisonment by the People's Court of Gerze County in the Ngari Prefecture.
The court found the three men killed more than 150 Tibetan antelopes at the Qiangtang Nature Reserve, a habitat of the rare animal last winter.
The Tibet-Qinghai Plateau in west China is the habitat of the Tibetan antelope. Its population has dropped from several million to below 100,000 in the past two decades due to extensive poaching and habitat destruction.
International traffickers make shahtoosh shawls, a luxury item that uses the fur of three to five Tibetan antelopes to make just one.
In the past 25 years since 1979, the Tibetan antelope has been recognized as an endangered species and protected under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.
The species was also listed as Class-A protected animal species in China's Wildlife Protection Law in 1989.
China has established three nature reserves to protect the rare creatures, covering a total of more than 600,000 sq km, an area 40 times the size of Beijing.
(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2006)