Sunday, July 15, 2012

Climate Change Threatens Tibetan Antelopes' Gestation Period

Tibetan antelope

In China's remote northwest region, it is said that Tibetan antelopes follow a particular migration pattern every summer to give birth which is the key to their survival. Around 30,000 female antelopes migrate in June and July to the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau to give birth to their calves. Although scientists have been unable to explain why the antelopes favor this place for their deliveries, there have been concerning signs of change in this pattern because of climate change. In recent months, limitless rainfalls and melting glaciers have caused overflowing of several lakes in the nature reserve forming rivers. According to Tseten, a senior official of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve administration, the channels prevented some pregnant female antelopes from reaching their calving ground this year. Zhao Xinlu, an official in charge of the reserve's Drolnai area, stated that the females cannot cross these channels to reach the southern bank of Drolnai Lake where they have been known to give birth to their calves over the last few decades. He further added that around 3,000 antelopes were marooned on their way to Drolnai Lake, and had to deliver their fawns near Khuse Lake this year which was not previously favored as a delivery site.

Once threatened to near extinction due to rampant poaching for its horns and skin, the Tibetan antelope made a successful comeback thanks to intensified government protection. The Hoh Xil Nature Reserve is now home to 70,000 of these magnificent antelopes. But now, they are facing a new kind of threat coming from none other than nature itself: climate change. Tseten stated that the antelopes' survival rate is already 30 percent low, adding that the figure might deteriorate as more pregnant females are forced to give birth in unfamiliar environments. Pointing to snow-capped mountains off in the distance, he further added saying that the peaks were once covered with snow but now only they can only be seen on mountain tips. It is said that melting snow is the primary source Researchers have discovered with alarming results that glaciers on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau are also melting rapidly. Cheng Haining, a senior engineer with the Qinghai provincial surveying and mapping bureau stated that satellite pictures of the glaciers indicated that most have diminished over the past decades, some by as much as 12.9 percent. He further added that about 5.3 percent (70 kilometers) of glaciers in the Yangtze river sources had melted over the past thirty years, along with two small ones. This, according to Haining, is closely connected to global warming. He further added that the data gathered by three meteorological stations over the past five decades indicated an ongoing rise in the average temperature in the area.

This article gives a clear picture of what the world must do, in order to put a stop to global warming. In places where there is an abundance of snow, the surrounding area is prone to the devastation of floods. One of those places is the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, where the melting of the ice and overflowing of lakes have formed networks of channels that disrupt the movement patterns of various species of animals native to this vast stretch of land. One of those animals is the Tibetan antelope, which scientists and researchers say has been tremendously affected by the change in climate that has hindered its migration pattern to various spots for giving birth every summer. Xiao Penghu, a deputy chief of the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve's administration, stated that in addition to obstructing the animals' migratory patterns for a long term, the channels and lakes would then dry up which is "disastrous" to the region's ecology. Tseten, the administration's senior official, added that the fate of the Tibetan antelope is "in our hands" as he called for people around the world to join together to combat climate change. He also conveyed a message saying that once global warming wipes out these antelopes, humans would eventually be wiped off the face of this planet. This is why it is extremely crucial that we should all unite to take a stand against global warming before it further takes its toll on various natural environments around the world, including the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

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