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Guardians of wildlife in Tibet

By Can Cai (China Tibet Online)

08:28, April 03, 2013

Tashi Phuntsok is a wildlife crusader in Tibet. When we see him, he is patrolling Serling Lake State Natural Reserve in a cold windy day with his simple equipments – a motorcycle, a notebook, a bag of provisions, a mobile and some repairing tools.

He has been doing this job for over 4 years, during which he must take care of two families, one to the north of Serling Lake in Luoma Township, Nagri Prefecture, where his wife and two children live, the other at the Serling Lake State Natural Reserve, home to many of his "special children", i.e. various kinds of rare wild birds, Tibetan antelopes, Tibetan kiangs and Mongolian Gazelles etc.

Serling Lake State Natural Reserve is located on the Changtang highlands in the north of Tibet with a total area of 18936.3 square kilometers averaging about 4500 meters above sea level. Every morning, Tashi Phuntsok sets off for his work place on a motorcycle and his daily work thus starts.

Tashi Phuntsok is just one of the 291 wildlife crusaders in Nagri Prefecture of Tibet. Their daily work mainly consists of natural reserve patrol, wildlife supervision and treatment of the wounded ones. They have gone through strict training by experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), who are invited, on regular basis, by local government to give trainings in wildlife background data input, epidemic source and case monitoring and so on.

"Wildlife conservation would benefit generations and generations. I hope I could do this job all my life." said Tashi Phuntsok. He patrols the natural reserve four times a day to see whether there are wounded or dead wild animals and to detect traces of illegal poaching.

In the past four years, Tashi Phuntsok and his colleagues have protected this land by patrolling every corner of the natural reserve. They often use lakeside snow to quell thirst and eat tsampa (a traditional Tibetan food) they bring along to resist hunger.

Migmar Tsering, deputy general of the Forestry Bureau of Nagri Prefecture, said Tibetan rare wildlife has been effectively protected with the establishment of natural reserves at various levels, which have continuously raised farmers and herdsmen’s awareness of wildlife conservation and improved ecological environment. Gradually, farmers and herdsmen become a major force in the frontline to protect Tibetan wildlife.

It is reported that the wildlife crusaders started on a semi-voluntary basis. At the beginning, the crusaders could get nothing but subsidies for petrol. Whereas now, it has developed into a full-time job with each crusader equipped with a motorcycle and paid 400 yuan a month.

"Due to efforts made by wildlife crusaders as well as farmers and herdsmen, natural reserves on the Changtang highlands have achieved significant results in wildlife conservation." According to Migmar Tsering, from 2000 till now, the number of the Tibetan antelope has increased from over 60,000 to over 120,000 and that of the Tibetan kiang from over 50,000 to more than 80,000. Besides, the wild yak has also expanded its number from over 6,000 to more than 9,000.

It is reported that a thorough and detailed survey will be conducted this year on wild animals living in natural reserves of the Changtang highlands so as to provide a scientific reference for policy-making and endangered wildlife conservation.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:LiangJun、Yao Chun)

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