Chinese tourists fined US$15,750 for chasing endangered Tibetan antelopes to take photos

Group drove after the endangered animals for over a minute in two off-road vehicles, forestry authority says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 2:24pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 5:31pm

A group of Chinese tourists have been fined US$15,750 for chasing endangered Tibetan antelopes with off-road vehicles during the week-long National Day break last week.

The seven tourists were travelling in Tibet when they entered a restricted area inside a nature reserve on Wednesday to take photos of the antelopes, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

In photos taken by a witness, a herd of antelopes is seen running across the arid plain while two white four-wheel drives pursue them.

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The group chased the animals in the two vehicles for more than a minute in order to take photos of them, the Tibetan forestry authority said in a statement on Sunday.

The seven tourists have been fined 15,000 yuan (US$2,250) each, while the officials responsible for managing the nature reserve would also be held accountable, the statement said.

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Demand for the underwool of Tibetan antelope has pushed the species to the brink of extinction, although their numbers have slightly recovered thanks to a crackdown on illegal hunting.

Being chased by cars could be lethal for antelopes, a Tibetan forestry official told the broadcaster.

“Scared antelopes tend to run at their top speed,” the official was quoted as saying. “They will have a strong stress reaction, and their cardiovascular functions could be exhausted as they try to flee.”

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The authorities searched a 300 sq km area of the nature reserve after the car chase but no antelopes were found to be injured or dead, according to the report.