Re­solv­ing the con­flict be­tween progress, pro­tec­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NY­IMA and DAQIONG in Lhasa and LUO WANGSHU in Bei­jing

Bian Xiaox­ing will al­ways re­mem­ber the day she dis­en­tan­gled the body of a preg­nant Ti­betan an­te­lope from a wire fence dur­ing a field­work trip in the Chang­tang Na­ture Re­serve in Ngari pre­fec­ture in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

“It was May, dur­ing the Ti­betan an­telopes’ mi­gra­tion pe­riod, and we set out to drive along the fence. Soon we found a dead doe hang­ing off the fence. The body was still warm when I touched it, and I sud­denly re­al­ized that she was car­ry­ing a fawn. The ex­press-ion on the doe’s face was in­de­scrib­ably sad and we as­sumed she had strug­gled hard be­fore her death. The preg­nant an­te­lope was sup­posed to have her new baby in a month,” said Bian, pro­ject of­fi­cer of the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety in Lhasa, the cap­i­tal of Ti­bet.

Bian and her col­leagues work to im­prove pro­tec­tion of lo­cal wildlife and to pre­vent in­ci­dents such as this. “The fence, which was built by lo­cal res­i­dents, is in­tended to pro­tect the range­land. How­ever, it also dis­rupts the lives of the wild an­i­mals, such as the an­telopes, and their mi­gra­tion pat­terns,” Bian said, adding that her over­rid­ing pri­or­ity is to re­solve the con­flict be­tween the de­vel­op­ment of the re­gional econ­omy and pro­tec­tion of the nat­u­ral world.

Ti­bet has long been a par­adise for a wide range of wildlife, in­clud­ing en­dan­gered species such as Ti­betan an­telopes and Wild yaks.

The re­gion is home to 47 na­ture re­serves, cov­er­ing a to­tal of 412,200 square kilo­me­ters and ac­count­ing for nearly 35 per­cent of the land, ac­cord­ing to Zhuang Hongxiang, deputy head of the Ti­bet En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau, which has helped to boost the pop­u­la­tions of en­dan­gered species.

Sta­tis­tics re­leased by the bureau show that the num­ber of Ti­betan an­telopes has risen to 200,000 from be­tween 50,000 and 70,000 in 1995. Zhuang said the pop­u­la­tion of Black-necked cranes has risen to about 7,000 from be­tween 1,000 and 3,000 in 1995, and the num­bers of other en­dan­gered species, such as Ti­betan don­keys and yaks, are also ris­ing.

Much of the wildlife lives in the Chang­tang Na­ture Re­serve in north­ern Ti­bet, which sits at an av­er­age al­ti­tude of more than 5,000 me­ters and cov­ers an area of 298,000 sq km.

The re­serve is the main fo­cus for Bian and her col­leagues, who co­op­er­ate with lo­cal forestry bu­reaus to pro­tect the lo­cal wildlife.

Dur­ing the an­telopes’ mi­gra­tion pe­riod, Bian’s of­fice co­op­er­ates with the Ngari Forestry Bureau to en­sure that preg­nant does can cross high­ways safely. They es­tab­lish sta­tions at ma­jor junc­tions on the mi­gra­tion route, and con­duct pa­trols, check ve­hi­cles, reg­u­late traf­fic flow and dis­trib­ute fly­ers to alert driv­ers of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, said Ny­ima Phuntsok, head of the forestry bureau.

Since last year, the bureau has dealt with six cases of poach­ing, ar­rested 17 sus­pects and seized 891 an­te­lope pelts.

In 2007, the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety first con­ducted thor­ough re­search into the re­serve’s nat­u­ral re­sources, in­clud­ing study­ing bio­di­ver­sity and ge­o­log­i­cal com­plex­ity. It also con­ducted re­search into Wild yaks, signed pro­tec­tion agree­ments with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and trained park rangers.

“I am touched when I work with the lo­cal forestry bu­reaus be­cause they make ev­ery ef­fort to pro­tect the na­ture re­serve,” Bian said.

Con­tact the writ­ers through lu­owang­shu@chi­nadaily.com. cn

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