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Birthing season for Tibetan antelopes

26-06-2013 | From: China Tibet Online

Every summer, thousands of female Tibetan antelopes come to the Hoh Xil reservation in China's Tibetan Autonomous Region to give birth.

Over 20,000 antelopes are waiting to give birth. Every summer, flocks of pregnant female Tibetan antelopes come to Zhuonai Lake. Why these mums-to-be choose this place to deliver their offspring remains a mystery. But scientists are sure that even more are on the way.

Zhao Xinlu, a team leader at the Zhuonai Lake Work Station, saw over two thousand Tibetan antelopes near the station this morning. That's about one tenth of the herd. "More Tibetan antelopes are still coming," he said.

As the peak time of this year's birthing season draws near, more and more offspring are appearing.

"We spotted seven to eight newborns among the herd this morning. This means that five out of every thousand female Tibetan antelopes have already given birth. We should see the peak in the next three to five days," said Su Jianping, a plateau biology expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Tibetan antelope fur is often used for making luxury shawls. But the trade is pushing the species to the brink of extinction. Less than 75,000 are left in the wild. That's down from one million just 50 years ago.

China's government has been making efforts to protect the species by bringing in laws banning illegal hunting and setting up protection zones.

Scientists say nearly 90 percent of these antelopes will give birth. They'll then rejoin their herds, along with their new baby antelopes in September.

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