Antelopes roam free thanks to hooded crusader Hashi

By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-18 15:13
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The award-winning film Mountain Patrol: Kekexili (2004) tracks the heroic efforts of a group of Tibetans who face the threat of starvation while attempting to save the endangered Tibetan antelope from hunters.

Antelopes roam free thanks to hooded crusader Hashi

The story, set against the exquisite backdrop of Kekexili (Hoh Xil), an isolated region in northwestern China's Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, is based on the real-life exploits of Hashi Tashi-Dorjie and his fellow protectionists.

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Hashi, a Tibetan who was recently named a Shanghai Expo Star for his crusading work, said the movie took a number of artistic liberties, such as showing the carcasses of hundreds of Tibetan antelopes killed by poachers to harvest their wool.

"We never saw so many leftover bones in Hoh Xil," he said. "They were all devoured by eagles and wolves.

"Neither is there any quicksand or desert there," he added, referring to a specific scene in the movie when one of the team gets stuck in quicksand while tracking the poachers.

Despite these factual inaccuracies, the life-and-death struggle between the protectionists and poachers was steeped in real incident and many of the environmental hazards were not made up, he said; neither were the bad guys.

Antelopes roam free thanks to hooded crusader Hashi

One of his companions was shot dead 15 years ago in a gunfight with over a dozen armed poachers. The man's frozen body was found some time later, his pistol raised in a firing position with the man still on his knees.

Luckily, he didn't die in vain.

Thanks to the team's efforts and a national crackdown on poaching, the plateau's antelope population has begun to pick up after dwindling to precariously low levels in the late 1980s and early 90s.

Before joining the campaign to develop Hoh Xil and preserve the antelope in 1992, Hashi, a Qinghai native who was orphaned at the age of eight, worked at a post office and as a middle school teacher. The 47-year-old also found time to raise two daughters.

Firm in the belief that he was preordained to help save the animals in the region, Hashi and his team ventured deep into the wilderness 12 times over a distance of 60,000 km before the preservation campaign became known to outside world.

In 1998, he co-founded the first natural protection NGO on the Tibetan plateau. He now serves as secretary-general of the Snowland Great Rivers Environmental Protection Association, which is dedicated to spreading environmental education, investigations into climate change and protecting indigenous wild animals.

Hashi was awarded by expo organizers for his efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle and environmental awareness.

"Ecological issues concern everyone," he said. "After satisfying their material needs, people in big cities begin to pursue health and true happiness, which usually involves nature."

"But when it comes to ecological issues, money or investment is not always the answer."


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