Tibetans in a Dilemma as Second Group of Poachers is Freed

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

Authorities in a Tibetan-populated prefecture of northwestern China’s Qinghai province have freed a second group of Chinese caught poaching in a wildlife protected area, adding to environmental concerns among local Tibetans.

The group was discovered fishing on Aug. 17 at the Panchen Yutso lake in the Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Pema (Banma) county, a Tibetan resident of the area told RFA’s Tibetan Service on Wednesday.

“When the local Tibetans saw them, they rushed to the lake, and the Chinese intruders abandoned the area, leaving their equipment behind,” RFA’s  source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A group of 40 Tibetans went to the county court to complain, but the poachers were made only to “promise that they would not hunt in local forests for wild animals or catch fish in the local lakes” and escaped punishment, the source said.

The Tibetans in turn were asked by court officials to “continue to protect the environment and to watch for encroachments,” he said.

Three areas around Panchen Yutso lake called Mei, Yei, and Watsuk are famous for their large herds of deer and musk deer and for their abundance of fish, RFA’s source said.

And though poachers have been caught in the area in the past, and were released by authorities on promises not to return, “intrusions still take place,” he said.

“So the Tibetans are still worried about encroachments on the local wildlife.”

'The authorities don't respond'

In an earlier incident, a July 22-23 confrontation between Tibetans and Chinese poachers in Pema county followed the killing of wildlife in an officially protected forest, local sources said.

“[Chinese poachers] set up wire traps in the forest and killed several deer, musk deer, and monkeys,” an area resident told RFA.

When local Tibetans heard about the poaching, “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.”

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

Poachers had hunted in the area the year before, and though local Tibetans guarding the protected area had seized the men’s belongings and appealed to local authorities to take action against them, they never heard later that anything had been done, he said.

“Whenever local Tibetans raise concerns about this issue, the authorities don’t respond.”

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


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