Protection for Tibetan Antelope in Kekexili

The construction of the new Qinghai-Tibet Railroad in Kekexili, China, transects a rural alpine plateau that harbours numerous endangered species and is the source of waters for the Yangtze River. The railroad, partially functioning since 2001, disrupts the local ecosystem by segregating the region’s Tibetan antelope and wild yak herds, blocking seasonal migratory routes, as well as generating construction waste. It is feared that is addition to these direct negative impacts, the development of the railway will open up the area to hunters as well as rapidly developing local villages which lack the infrastructure to sustain population and industrial growth.

In 1995, Xin Yang founded Greenriver – the only government approved NGO for natural protection in Qinghai, at 4,500m elevation – and the Suonandajie Nature Protection Station for environmental protection in Kekexili area. A dedicated conservationist, Xin Yang of China is committed to protecting the Endangered Tibetan Antelope in Kekexili. In 1975, strict international protection of the antelope was introduced after severe hunting throughout the 20th Century fot Tibetan Antelope wool nearly drove them to extinction. Today, however, hunting is again on the increase and the number of Tibetan Antelope is estimated to be no more than 75 000, with evidence of populations declining. In addition to researching the biology of the antelopes, Xin Yang is running public education programmes to raise awareness of the threats they face during migration.

Greenriver has implemented a successful traffic system that allows the antelope to migrate across a major road. The system has had a measurable impact, and in June 2005, 2,800 antelope were seen to cross the Qinghai-Tibetan road, seven times the amount from the same period in 2004. Xin Yang is now working to develop further solutions in light of the new Quinghai-Tibet railway to reduce the negative impact the development will have on the free migration of the antelopes. Within the next five years, he and Greenriver intend to have fully incorporated the government into conservation efforts, and have in place a successful programme to develop sustainable local incomes.

In 2008, Xin Yang received further Associate Award support from The Whitley Fund for Nature to help the continuing efforts of Greenriver in China.

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