Authorities in Qinghai are pushing for the endangered Tibetan antelope, or chiru, to become the mascot for the 2008 Olympic Games in a bid to focus international attention on the plight of the animal. 'The Tibetan antelope embodies the Olympic spirit of higher, faster and stronger,' Qinghai Vice-Governor Ma Peihua said. 'They live on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at altitudes of 4,000 to 5,500 metres. Although the air is thin, they've adapted to the harsh natural environment, and can run at up to 100km per hour. 'They migrate thousands of kilometres. Their strong will meets the spirit that's embodied by the Olympics.' Qinghai submitted its application to the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games last year and is up against opposition in the form of the giant panda and other candidates. The winner will be revealed in June. Mr Ma said the real goal behind the mascot drive, which is being conducted with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, was to increase global exposure and prompt the introduction of better protection measures. The Tibetan antelope is internationally protected and its trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. They mainly live in Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang . There are about 45,000 Tibetan antelope in Qinghai - but the number has been dropping by thousands every year. 'The Tibetan antelope only exists in China,' said Chen Runsheng , secretary-general of the wildlife conservation association. 'It's our duty to push for more measures to be taken to stop the killing.' A collection of signatures calling for more to be done to save the species is among the series of promotional activities to be launched in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.