First discovery of an Antelope Calving Ground and
efforts to stop poaching and the illegal international Shahtoosh trade
Scientific Discovery: For over one hundred years, scientists and naturalists sought to locate the site where Tibetan Antelope gave birth each year, but with no success. How Man Wong first noticed such migrations and recorded long lines of female antelope in motion during his 1982 expeditions in Tibet. Staff of the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve, our CERS partner, chanced upon a newborn Tibetan Antelope in 1992 while patrolling the western extremity of the reserve for illegal gold miners and saw an infant still wet with amnionic fluid struggling to rise from the ground. Based on this hint, CERS launched an expedition in 1998 to return to the site, arranging to arrive at the same time of year in late June. It was our hope to finally discover a calving ground.
After traveling for four days, camping out every day, the CERS team reached the foothills of the Muz Tagh Ulugh Snow Mountain, which straddles the border between Xinjiang and Tibet in the remote Kunlun Moutains. On June 25, 1998, scientists saw for the first time the Tibetan Antelope calving ground, where thousands of female had converged to give birth. Of the over 7,000 female antelopes estimated to be at the site, about one-third were ready to give birth within the three-week period between late June and early July. The remaining animals were all adult and juvenile females, joining the yearly migration as if to learn the route. It was a grand sight of nature not to be forgotten.
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