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Animals of Ngari face problems over living space

10-02-2012 13:49 BJT Special Report:Rediscover Ngari |

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By CCTV reporter Liao Ruochen

In the Chiang Tang Nature Reserve, the wests of Tibet, animals are part of a unique ecosystem, but each of them faces its own different problems.

The harsh environment on Chiang Tang made it impossible to develop agriculture. Most vegetation has evolved to cling tightly to the ground. Others are like these resilient shrubs. Here, people’s livelihoods depend entirely on animal husbandry, and yaks are their most important livestock.

Liao Ruochen, Chiang Tang, Tibet, said, “These are the biggest mammals on this highland. Even tame yaks are said to have a fierce temper when they’re agitated. But we’re going to visit some of their wilder cousins.”

With so many domesticated yaks, the wild ones now face less danger from poachers’ guns. Finding them was still hard, these gigantic beasts are still not used to the presence of vehicles and we also need to carefully keep our distance in case their tempers are aroused.

In the Chiang Tang Nature Reserve, the wests of Tibet, animals are part of a unique
ecosystem, but each of them faces its own different problems.

Here, people’s livelihoods depend entirely on animal husbandry, and yaks are their
most important livestock.

Liao Ruochen said, “Over there is a wild yak. Its fur has a golden hue, and it hangs down to its knees. The size and shape of its horns set it apart.”

“Estimates put the number of wild golden yaks at only about 200 in the region, and people consider them an auspicious sight. For me, I feel lucky enough that it’s not attracted by my red clothes. But the low number f wild yak population has caused concerns for the conservationists here.”

Dr. Kang Aili, Wildlife Conservation Society, China, said, “There are three kinds of big mammals at the heart of our protection work here: the wild yak, Tibetan antelopes and wild donkeys. The wild yak is largely neglected in conservation work because of poacher’s lack of interest in them. But in fact, their distribution is limited to the narrow passes near glaciers and their numbers have never exceeded 10,000.”

For the Tibetan antelopes and wild donkeys, the greatest danger came from the gun of the hunters. But for the yaks, the wild ones and domestic ones live on the same plateau, and this has caused an unexpected problem. In this case, wildlife conservationists’ job is not simply keeping out the poachers.

Zhao Huaidong, Project Officer of Wildlife Conservation Society, China, said, “When I first joined this organization, I thought I would mainly be dealing with animals from then on. But with each day at Chiang Tang, I realized that it’s more about people. We have to deal with the reality that wild animal and people live side by side here. The wild yaks face a different kind of danger: mixing with domesticated yaks during mating season. From the herder’s point of view, their yaks can be lured away into the wild. For the wild yaks, it brings genetic pollution and gradually erodes their genetic diversity.”

Given the large population of domestic yaks, the conservationists worry that these crossbred ones will gradually replace the purebred ones, and lose the unique traits of their species. But the natural reserve has no obvious border, and as the people here are raising more livestock to improve their lives, more herds of domestic yaks now wander into the mountain slopes that once were home to the wild yaks, protecting the yaks from their own kind proved to be much more difficult than from the poachers. In seeking to balance nature and development, Chiang Tang faces the same problems as elsewhere in China. The fragile ecosystem cannot survive mistakes.

Everything has two sides. A way must be found for expanding human settlements and wild animals to coexist peacefully.

Here, people’s livelihoods depend entirely on animal husbandry, and yaks are their most
important livestock.

 

A way must be found for expanding human settlements and wild animals to coexist
peacefully.

Editor:Wang Chuhan |Source: CCTV.com

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