The pipelines of China's ambitious West-to-East Gas Transmission Project, which started in July 2002,will be detoured in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in a bid to protect the habitat of wild Bactrian camels, a highly endangered species ranked on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List.
An additional 150 million yuan (18 million US dollars) will be added to the original 40-billion-yuan (4.8 billion US dollars) budget of the project to make the detour, Monday's China Daily reported.
The pipeline, which goes through Xinjiang's Lop Nur Nature Sanctuary, which homes 300 to 500 wild camels, for 300 kilometers,will change into a camel-friendly course, adding 15 kilometers to the planned length, said Wei Shanfeng, director of the Xinjiang Environmental Protection Bureau.
Statistics show only some 800 wild Bactrian camels, also dubbedas wild two-humped camels, are estimated to remain in the deserts of Xinjiang and neighboring Mongolia, even rarer than giant pandas,which number about 1,000.
The wild camels may be a species never being domesticated by human beings, according to genetic tests on Bactrian camels and their tamed counterparts.
"The protection of wild camels involves not only saving rare animals from poachers but also preserving their natural living surroundings," said Li Xinhua, head of the Natural Ecology Preservation Office with the regional bureau, quoted by the newspaper.
As a result of Chinese people's increasing environmental protection consciousness, efforts have been made in the country's key construction projects, such as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, to preserve habitats of animals.
The West-to-East Gas Transmission Project, totaling 4,000 kilometers in length, will go through 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and is designed to transmit 12 billion cubic meters of natural gas from western regions to east China every year.
(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2002)