A reserve zone for an extremely endangered species of Chinese gazelle, the Przewalski's gazelle, has been set up in northwest China's Qinghai Province, an official said on Saturday.
Li Hailian, director of the tourism bureau of Gangcha County, said the number of the gazelles living around Qinghai Lake, China's largest salt water lake, had risen to more than 300 from about 200 in the 1980s with proper protection measures.
Authorities have invested 2.12 million yuan (290,000 US dollars) during the past five years to protect the rare gazelle before setting up the 162-square-kilometer zone.
Sick and injured gazelles in the zone would be cared for in the future, while zoologists would breed and study the animals.
The gazelle, native to China like the famous Tibetan antelope, is the most endangered hoofed mammal species in the world.
The historical distribution of the Przewalski's gazelle covered an area in central and northwest China, including the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Gansu and Qinghai provinces. But today, they are only found living around the lake, according to Li.
Their numbers have been affected by decades of habitat destruction and range reduction. The increase in the human and cattle populations and the development of cultivated lands have reduced the gazelles' food supply.
Przewalski's gazelle was named after a Russian adventurer who collected a specimen and brought it back to St. Petersburg in 1875.
(Xinhua News Agency December 30, 2007)