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antelopeDharamshala: - About 35,000 pregnant Tibetan antelopes have given birth are expected in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Marching across grasslands and mountains, the pregnant antelopes finished a long journey from their habitats in Tso-ngon, Amdho Province and Toe Ngari and Changtang area of Tibet, to arrive at the bank near Achen Mountain to give birth said Chinese state controlled media Xinhua.

Chinese officials in Tibet, a head of a bureau said it has sent special teams out to prevent the antelopes from being poached. Five conservation stations have been set up to monitor the antelopes' migration and ensure their safety while traveling across the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Qinghai-Tibet Highway, Xiao said. Songamge, a ranger at the reserve, said they have asked passing vehicles to slow down so that the antelopes can cross the highway smoothly.

"When pregnant antelopes come over in large groups, rangers close some sections of the road temporarily to make way for the antelopes", Songamge added. "Over 60 percent of the 35,000 antelopes have already given birth", said Zhao Xinlu, director of Zonag Lake's conservation station.

The number of Tibetan antelopes in or near the reserve has increased from about 20,000 in 1998, when the reserve was established, to 60,000 at present, according to Xiao. The antelopes have been targeted by poachers since the 1980s. Armed poaching led to a sharp decline in the antelope population in the 1990s. In 2010, several national-level nature reserves that also act as antelope habitats agreed to make joint efforts to protect the animals.

However, there were about ten hundred thousand chirus residing on the Tibet plateau some 50 years ago, according to various media reports. Now, this number has been reduced to a mere 75,000.  Chiru is a Tibetan antelope, which also exists in the Tibet plateau. 90 per cent decline has been due to uncontrolled poaching, which is done for the wool obtained from this antelope.

This animal lives at a 3,250-5,500 metre elevation. Predators such as wolf, lynx, snow leopard, and red fox are predators of chirus and their young calves. Their rutting season begins during the snow-filled months of November and December. A male chiru can have up to 12 females in his harem. In the breeding season, the chances of them being poached is more as they are seen together and are more relaxed from watching for threats around them.

This antelope is considered to be close to the goat family. Countries like the US, India, and China have been working on stopping this cruel trade of shahtoosh shawls, but this is still a big problem in the Tibetan region. On the other hand, poachers are much more equipped and are ready to hunt. The crux of the matter is that the animal cannot be saved until the demand for their wool ends.

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