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Wildlife

2003/10/14

To us humans most places on the ''Roof of the World'' are inhospitable but to wildlife it is a"paradise''.

If you travel to Qangtang Grasslands in north Tibet and Ngari Plateau in west Tibet, both places being 3,000 metres above sea level, you are more likely to meet with wild animals there than with your fellow creatures. Please read the following report by two newsmen on what they saw and heard when passing through the no-man's-land in north and west Tibet.

"Wi1d asses ambled in twos and threes leisurely and sometimes they made a turn all of a sudden and dashed forward, antelopes, with beautiful recurved horns, galloped in pairs behind our car if as they would run a race with it; droves of gazelles emerged above the horizon in the distance; a blue sheep stood on the top of a mound motionless like a silhouette; now and then you could spot the dark brown back of a wolf moving among the tall grass..."

"If you are lucky, you can meet with thousands of wild asses or gazelles in migration. They would raise clouds of dust as they move along. We failed to see such a sight because, as the native who served as our guide said, it was not the right season. "

"of all these wild animals the most impressive is the king of plateau, the wild yak. Of a powerful build, a wild yak may weigh more than 1,000 kilogrammes with its whole body covered by long dark brown hair. The two horns of his are said to be so hard that they can overturn a truck. We saw through a telescope four of them sauntering in the distance. " (The above are quoted from the "Tibet Daily")

Newsmen also described the close relations between the black-necked cranes and men in the Xainza Nature Reserve. Dubbed ''giant panda among the birds'', the black-necked crane is categorized as an endangered species. According to past reports, fewer than 1,000 of them survived in the world, with their habitats being in China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.In 1992, foreign and Chinese experts, on an inspection tour of a habitat of the black-necked cranes in Tibet, spotted more than 3,000 of them and saw a chick being hatched.

Tibet has more than 2,300 species of insects; 64 species of fish; 45 species of amphibians; 55 species of reptiles; 488 species of birds; and 142 species of beasts. A total of 125 species of precious and rare animals receive key protection from the State, accounting for more than one third of the species under protection. The 34 most precious species of them have a total population of 900,000. The wild yaks, native to Tibetan Plateau, now number about 10,000; wild asses about 50,000 to 60,000; Tibetan antelopes 40,000 to 60,000; gazelles 160,000 to 20,000; takins 2,000 to 3,000; Yunnan snubnosed monkeys 570 to 650; Bengali tigers 5 to 10. Besides, there is also a considerable number of bear, leopard, wild deer, wild sheep, rare birds, etc.

The Tibetan Wildlife Protection Association was established in 1991 , with Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme as its honorary president and chairman of the Tibetan Autonomous Region Gyaincain Norbu as its president.

China adopted a Wildlife Protection Law in 1991; subsequently,Tibet formulated regulations for its implementation and published a list of the wild animals that come under protection of the State and the Autonomous Region. Five nature reserves in which rare and precious animals receive protection have been successively set up:i. e., Qangtang Nature Reserve for Wild Tibetan Yaks, Asses and Gazelles; Markam Nature Reserve for Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkeys; Xianga Nature Reserve for Black-Necked Cranes; Nyingchi-Dongjug Nature Reserve for Antelopes; Riwoge-Chamoling Nature Reserve for Red Deer. Within these reserves hunting of wild animals is banned.Besides these nature reserves, some counties also take measures for wildlife protection, such as hunting allowed in one of every four years and marking out of small areas for hunting, etc.

Wild animals are friends of us humans; to protect them is to protect ourselves. Tibetans, especially those living on grasslands and in forests, traditionally engaged in hunting. Now they are discarding the old idea that ''wild animals are ownerless, so who hunts them down may have them'' and work for their protection. The reappearance of Bengali tigers in southeast Tibet is a good example. In the recesses of the wooded mountains of Rdzayal and Meitog areas in south Tibet, people used to regard tiger hunting as a heroic act; consequently tigers disappeared long ago. However, in recent years there have been reports of tigers being spotted.In 1993, a tiger attacked a score of domestic animals in a few days. However, the local people only fired shots to scare it away but did not try to kill it.There are signs that about 10 Bengali tigers now are roving around this area.

Poaching is severely dealt with. In 1993,seven poachers were prosecuted for killing 50 Tibetan gazelles and given jail terms for two to six months respectively.

Experts say that precisely because the existence and breeding of wild animals are well protected, their numbers have increased by about 30 per cent in Tibet in the last six years.

It has to be admitted that though cases are fewer now, poaching still exists because of the exorbitant profits it promises. This has led to the decrease of the economically valuable animals,such as bear and musk deer. On this account, severe measures are still necessary. If the masses do some hunting and kill some protected wild animals because of their hunting tradition or to ensure safety of their domestic animals, there should be more education work among them. And with improved economic life, things will change. Moreover, natural changes in ecology and greater human activities also have led to diminished habitats of certain wild animals. This poses a big question for Tibetan wild animal protection in the future.

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