Will China Burn Stockpiles of Tiger Skins to Show Good Faith?
Members of an animal protection team at the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve
yesterday burn Tibetan antelope hides that were confiscated from
poachers. The reserve, which lies on the border of the Tibet Autonomous
Region and Qinghai Province, protects the rare wildlife of the
ANIMAL protection authorities in northwest China's Qinghai Province
yesterday destroyed 2,282 Tibetan antelope hides confiscated from
poachers to show their resolve in combating the killing of the rare species.
"The hides were seized from poachers over the past 10 years," said
Cedain Zhou, director of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve Administration. "We
want to show our unswerving attitude against poaching."
He said the move was the largest of its kind since 1998 when China began
coming down hard on armed poachers in the region. Over the past decade,
more than 4,000 Tibetan antelope skins have been confiscated by the
Tibetan antelopes are targeted by poachers because they produce the
finest wool in the world, known as shahtoosh, a Persian word meaning
"king of wool."
Each hair of the Tibetan antelope is around six times thinner than the
average human hair. A shahtoosh shawl, extremely lightweight and warm,
requires the wool from three to four antelopes and may fetch up to
US$11,000 on the global market.
Beginning in the late 1980s, shahtoosh shawls became high fashion in
Europe and the United States, which fueled a black market and led to a
slump in the population of Tibetan antelopes from 200,000 to 20,000 in 1997.
To curb the rampant slaughter of Tibetan antelopes and save them from
extinction, the Chinese government set up the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve in
1995 and upgraded it to a state-listed reserve in 1997.
The reserve, in the hinterlands of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, covers
45,000-square kilometers and lies at an average altitude of 4,600 meters.
Thanks to the country's anti-poaching efforts, no armed poaching has
been reported since 2006 in Hoh Xil, and the population of Tibetan
antelope in this region has grown to around 60,000, Cedain Zhou said.
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