Traditional Hunting of Tibetan Antelope, Its Relation to Antelope Migration, and Its Rapid Transformation in the Western Chang Tang Nature Reserve

  • Fox J
  • Dorji T
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Abstract

On the western Tibetan Plateau the endangered Tibetan antelope, Pantholops hodgsonii, has traditionally been hunted for subsistence. Although several hunting techniques are used, a common one that leaves evidence on the landscape is the use of earth or stone diversionary barriers, or drive-lines, with hiding depressions used for shooting. Within the western Chang Tang Nature Reserve on the northwestern Tibetan Plateau we located 45 examples of these generally funnel-shaped trap systems near the northern limits of human habitation in Gertse and Rutok counties, Ngari Prefecture, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. The more recently maintained drive-lines were located farther to the north, and many of the southern ones we observed had, according to locals, not been used in many years, as hunting activity apparently has moved northward. Increasing human population and settlement of northern areas, new pastoral land-tenure arrangements and associated fencing, as well as modern techniques for hunting antelope and increased markets for their fine wool are all changing the human-wildlife dynamic at the northern edge of human habitation in the Chang Tang. Such new developments are likely to result soon in a relegation of the nomadic pastoralists' old hunting practices to a tradition of the past.

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Authors

  • Joseph L. Fox

  • Tsechoe Dorji

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