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Tibet's wildlife springs back to life
( 2003-07-18 09:28) (China Daily)

The populations of several species of wildlife in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region have been steadily increasing over the past decade due to stricter enforcement by local wildlife protection departments, according to renowned biologist George Schaller.

The species mentioned in a survey by Schaller of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) include the Tibetan antelope, which is often slaughtered by poachers to make luxury "shahtoosh," the Tibetan antelope of chiru, Tibetan gazelles, wild donkeys and yaks.

Schaller, who visited the Tibetan Plateau in April, says the local populations of the species have grown compared to the surveys he conducted 10 years ago around Changtang Reserve, an enormous wildlife sanctuary established in 1993 by the WCS and the local government.

According to Schaller, the first international researcher to be granted access to the Metdog Region in southeastern Tibet by the Chinese Government, the population of chiru has risen from an estimated 3,900 in 1991 to 5,890.

The number of wild donkeys has jumped from 1,224 to 2,241. The Tibetan gazelle population has grown from 352 to 487 and the number of wild yaks has climbed from 13 to over 185.

Scientists with the Tibet Autonomous Regional Forestry Department, Peking University and East China Normal University also participated in the survey.

While Schaller was conducting his survey in Tibet a decade ago, poaching was rampant, particularly in the case of the chiru, whose wool is also used to make shawls.

A decade later, Schaller says Tibet's forestry department has clearly made conservation and protection of wildlife a priority.

Dawa Cering, director of the Tibet Project of the World Wildlife Foundation, said competition between wild animals and domestic livestock has begun to trouble local people.

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