Tibetans Clash with Chinese Poachers in a Protected Zone

2013-08-27
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tibet-qinghai-guoluo-herders-2012.jpg
Tibetan herders drive their herd of yaks in Qinghai's Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, March 30, 2012.
AFP

Tibetan villagers assigned to guard protected forests in a Tibetan prefecture in northwestern China’s Qinghai province have clashed for a second time with Chinese poachers who appear to be shielded by the authorities, according to a local source.

The July 22-23 confrontation in the Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Pema (Banma) county followed the killing of wildlife in the officially protected area, a resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service this week.

“This year, several Chinese poachers entered the Chapayang forest in the Markok Chenpo area and killed a number of animals,” the man said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“They set up wire traps in the forest and killed several deer, musk deer, and monkeys,” he said.

When local Tibetans heard about the poaching, the second such incident within a year, “a group of 20 Tibetans went to the site and confronted the Chinese poachers,” the man said.

The poachers responded by throwing stones and clubbing the Tibetans assigned by officials to protect the area with “iron bars,” and the Tibetans in turn struck at the Chinese with their fists, injuring several, he said.

“Though police arrived at the site, they did not resolve the issue and left,” he said.

Authorities 'don't respond'

When poachers had hunted in the area the year before, local Tibetans enforcing the protected area had seized the men’s belongings and appealed to local authorities to take action against them, RFA’s source said.

They never learned that anything had been done, though, he said, adding, “Whenever local Tibetans raise concerns about this issue, the authorities don’t respond.”

Directives from China’s central government urging protection of Tibet’s vulnerable environment are often flouted at the local level by Han Chinese migrants to the region, experts say.

“Despite wildlife protection laws and nature reserves, the general direction seems to be to remove wildness from those lands still possessing it,” said University of Montana conservationist Richard B. Harris in a 2008 article, “Wildlife Conservation in China: Preserving the Habitat of China’s Wild West.”

“The future … is one that I believe the Chinese themselves, both in the western plains and the eastern cities, will ultimately come to regret.”

Reported by Kunsang Tenzin for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.