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Hoh Xil under threat (2)

(Global Times)

09:54, August 30, 2011

Troubling situation

Hoh Xil suffered extensive damage during the gold rush of the 1980s. "From the surface to the deeper ground, gold diggers dug out lakes on the smooth land, and such illegal activity still persists to today," said Wu. Then came the rising prices created by the vendors who were selling the skin of Tibetan antelopes, which inspired some of the gold diggers to switch their pursuits to hunting "soft gold."

According to China National Radio, hunting in the area during the 1980s reduced the number of Tibetan antelopes from 200,000 to fewer than 20,000, making it an international endangered species. Not until the Reserve was built in 1998, did the region see the number of antelopes gradually restored.

"Besides illegal gold digging and poaching, the vulnerable ecological environment of Hoh Xil cannot withstand outside disturbance," Wu told the Global Times. "Once vegetation is damaged, it is very hard to restore. Without protection, Hoh Xil might become a desert."

Wu also said that he heard from Caidan Zhou, director of the Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, that the China Resources Snow Breweries Company donates money to the Reserve, which is why they have opened the door to the company.

"Such conduct could make more people think that as long as they make a donation and hold up an 'environment protection' banner, then they can have the opportunity to go deep into the Reserve," said Feng.

Calls from the Global Times to Caidan Zhou went unanswered by the time of this printing.

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