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Nations Join Force on Endangered Antelope (06/27/01)
2003/12/24

 China, Britain and India will cooperate in an international campaign to save endangered Tibetan antelopes by cracking down on the trade in shahtoosh wool. This international effort seeks to halt the trade at the sites of capture, production and sale.

Without this drive, the Tibetan antelope will be extinct in five years, according to the results of an eight-month joint investigation into the illegal trade of Tibetan antelope.

The results were released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) on June 27 in Beijing, London and Delhi.

Delegates from China's government agencies and environmental NGOs, Britain's law enforcement authorities and India's fashion designers all expressed their determination to strengthen protection.

Living in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibetan antelopes, which are under protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, number below 75,000, down from several millions a century ago.

They were being killed at a rate of 20,000 per year, mainly due to the large demand for shahtoosh shawls in Western markets since the 1980s, according to Grace Ge Gabriel, country director of IFAW in China.

The Chinese government has exerted great efforts to protect the animal since 1981, according to the State Forestry Bureau. All commercial exports involving Tibetan antelope and antelope-related products have been prohibited in China, according to Wang Weisheng, an official in charge of wild animal protection.

In addition, China has opened three nature reserves in the antelope's habitat and appointed special protection agencies to regularly patrol the mountains to fight illegal hunting.

Since last year, the administration has allocated a special fund for the protection of the antelope, including 2 million yuan (US$241,250) to improve the equipment of the region's police stations, according to Cao Zhen, vice-director of the forest police bureau.

The Chinese officials vowed to continue to fight against the illegal poaching, smuggling, manufacturing and sale of antelope products.

The British law enforcement authorities pledged to implement tougher fines and penalties for those charged with illegal trade or possession of shahtoosh. This stand was echoed by several countries including China, India, Italy and the United States, in a joint announcement made in Xining, the capital of China's northwestern province of Qinghai.

IFAW also advised China, Nepal, India, EU countries and other possible shahtoosh consuming countries to vigorously enforce relevant endangered species protection laws.

 

 

 

 

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