Seven people fined for driving to chase after Tibetan antelopes



A total of seven people have been fined for pursuing a herd of Tibetan antelopes with their cars, the Tibet Autonomous Region Forestry Department announced on Sunday.

Driving two white SUVs on a self-driving tour, the suspects trespassed into Selincuo National Nature Reserve on Wednesday. In what looks like an attempt to take pictures, the speeding cars were dangerously close to the antelopes.

Footage captured by bystanders and posted on Weibo.

The photos led to a backlash among users, accusing the suspects of going too far in order to photograph the animals.

Anonymous witnesses filmed and captured the suspects’ actions. User @cacaliyizhi on Friday posted the photos on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, which caused a backlash as netizens expressed anger over what many believed to be a brutal and dangerous way to photograph the animals.

The screenshot of Weibo user's comment.

Lhasa police made an official statement via its official account on Weibo late Friday, saying that the suspected drivers had been detained and the cars they had hidden had been found.

Weibo Photo

The Forestry Department of the Tibet Autonomous Region published the results of the investigation Sunday night, imposing a penalty of 15,000 yuan (2,257 US dollars) on each of the suspects.

The reserve's caretakers responsible had their basic allowance suspended for three months. The local administrative departments have also been blamed of irresponsibility for the incident.

The Tibetan antelopes.

Tens of thousands of netizens, however, are not satisfied with the punishments.

"Is the punishment too light? As the nature reserve has so broad an area, I doubt the caretakers working there are well treated," a Weibo user who goes with the name @zhangdaben said.

"I think the punishment measures should include the suspects themselves being chased by cars at top speed," @jingshenjiedu_ ironically condemned the suspects.

The Tibetan antelopes.

The head of the Forestry Department of Tibet Autonomous Region stated that driving at a high speed next to the Tibetan antelopes would be extremely disturbing for the animals.

Forcing the animals to run at their maximum speed can cause lung failure and in some cases, death due to pulmonary artery rupture.

China's antelope population declined sharply from 200,000 to 20,000 due to illegal hunting in the 1980s. Due to the input of a great sum of investment and manpower, the number of Tibetan antelopes has risen to more than 200,000 at Chang Tang Nature Reserve in Nagqu County.

The Tibetan antelope had been moved from the status of Endangered to Near Threatened in an updated list, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last September.