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08:21 Nov 09 2011

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Tashi Dorje's redemption
08:20, November 09, 2011  

He is Sonam Dargye's disciple. He used to follow Sonam to protect the broad Hoh Xil, and left after Sonam's death. Now he comes back, establishing a NGO to teach local herders to protect the environment.


Sonam Dargye came back to his hometown for a summer vacation. He studied in Qinghai University for nationalities, as the first college student from his village in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, western China's Qinghai Province. The tall young man in white shirt and blue pants always talked about the outside world in fashionable words and sometimes played the flute in his tent.

Outside the tent, then a primary school pupil Tashi Dorje looked at him with envy, for this college student represents the world full of magic.

Tashi, an orphan since he was only eight, wanted to be a man like Sonam Dargye.

Years later, after graduation, Sonam gave up the opportunity to go to Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province or Beijing, and became a teacher in Zhidoi County National Middle School. Sonam rode back on a horse and took Tashi to the school, which for the first time changed his life.

From Middle School to Qinghai University of Post and Telecommunications, Tashi's vision was broadened by seeing the outside world.

To the young Tashi, the 1980s was in an age of idealism, and the society had undergone tremendous changes. What he had experienced in Xining inspired him, and he wanted to go back and change his backward hometown.

Nevertheless, the reality crashed his dream again and again. No matter during the reform of the post office or in the school where he worked, his failure repeatedly. He began to doubt whether he had gone a wrong way in his life.

At that time, the Zhidoi County Committee founded the Western Working Committee and was recruiting staff from the whole society. The secretary was Sonam Dargye, then Vice Secretary of the County Party Committee.
Tashi and his friends rushed to Sonam, but were scolded by him, for Sonam thought they were too weak to stand the frustrations.

To Tashi, Sonam was hot-tempered, but he was still willing to follow Sonam. Tahi then joined the working committee and became the secretary of Sonma. In the next 18 months, he entered Hoh Xil for more than 12 times.

Sonam has become a Tibetan hero for his contributions to the environment, and a symbolic figure. The legends about his protecting Tibetan antelopes have been well known with the movie "Kekexili" directed by famous director Lu Chuan.

In Tashi's consideration, maybe it is the environment of Hoh Xil that attracted Sonma, for he is a man with clear-cut individuality, who can not adapt to the atmosphere.

And he is a lonely hero. Even to his student Tashi, he had never put on a warm face. He was more like a pride eagle, and would never win people’s respect by showing his kindness.

Even as a local resident, Tashi had never imagined horrible environment of Hoh Xil: on the third "no man's land" in the world, there are no traffic, no people or order but desert and poachers.

Seeing the densely printed wheels entering Hoh Xil, Sonam signed, "This is not 'no man's land' but 'no law's land'".

In January 1994, Tashi and Sonam entered the Hoh Xil together for the last time.

In the middle, to look for poachers, the only team leader Sonam went alone for an investigation. Tashi was worried about his safety, so he drove a truck to follow Sonam, who scolded him.

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