A convoy of 21 vehicles left Xining, capital city of Qinghai Province, on Friday for a scientific mission to the Hol Xil Nature Reserve in northwest China's Qinghai Province.
This will be the country's largest scientific inspection of the nature reserve since 1990, and also the first one since the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway on July 1 this year.
The 61-person inspection team consists of scientists, journalists and volunteers.
The 50-day mission's aim is to better understand the formation of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, its effect on China's and the world's climate, as well as the distribution and migration of the nature reserve's rare animals.
Hol Xil is home to Tibetan antelopes, an endangered species which are protected by the Convention on the International Trade.
The population of Tibetan antelopes has dropped from several million to below 100,000 in the past two decades due to extensive poaching and human encroachment of their habitat.
The team will also collect samples of the area's plants to establish a gene databank and try to chart the area's ecological and environment trends over the past 15 years, said the team's head Ding Lin, a researcher with the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research of Chinese Academy of Sciences.
(Xinhua News Agency October 14, 2006)