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INTRODUCTION

'ROOF of the world', 'Shangri-la', Third Pole', 'The Lost Horizon', and other such terms manifest the fascination of many adventurers and explorers all around the world for Tibet. Many pioneer travellers and their followers to Tibet have described with a sense of mystery and discovery the unique Tibetan culture and tradition.

However, no extensive work has been done on the wildlife of Tibet. The word 'wildlife,' contrary to popular belief, not only refer to wild animals, but also encompasses wild plants as well. Tibet is one of the few countries in the world, where limited scientific research has been conducted on the biological aspects of its many species. Some species are still not properly scientifically studied and some are even yet to be discovered.

Senator Bob Brown of Tasmania, Australia, said at the Endangered Tibet Conference, held in Sydney on 28th Sept 1996 that the three greatest regions of our planet are Antarctica, Amazon, and Tibet. The first two enjoy a certain degree of global protection, public awareness and growing concern for their preservation. However, Tibet has to date attracted none of these.

This article attempts to provide an overview of the biodiversity of the Tibetan Plateau. The objective of this articles is multi-fold:

To create better awareness about the biodiversity of the Tibetan Plateau, which is conventionally believed as dry and desolate.

To seek international participation and assistance in conserving Tibetan wildlife.

To create global awareness about the tragedy of Tibet, and its enviornment under the China's rule.

The most important objective of this article is to remind today's Tibetan youth and the friends of Tibetans, that Tibet is not only barren and cold as some fiction books and Hollywood pictures would like to believe.

Tibet is the last sanctuary left in the world to some of the world's rare plant and animal species. This is primarily due to Tibet's long period of isolation and the protection provided by the sky-tapering majestic mountains for centuries. The natural protection is further strengthened by the Tibetan Buddhists belief of living in harmony with nature.

In the Horse Water Year in 1642, His Holiness the Great Fifth Dalai Lama became the spiritual and political mentor of Tibet. From this date, in the tenth month of every year, a Decree for the Protection of Animals and the Environment was issued in the name of the Dalai Lama. These human and natural factors have helped sustain myriad wildlife on the Plateau.

British explorer, Kingdon Ward, who visited Tibet wrote before the First World War: "I have never seen so many varieties of birds in one place, one great zoological garden."

In the forties, American adventurer, Leonard Clark, reported: "Every few minutes we would spot a bear, a hunting wolf, herds of musk deer, kiang (wild ass), gazelles, big horned sheep, or foxes. This must be one of the last unspoiled big game paradise."

However, after the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1949, the eco-friendly belief system of the Tibetan people was trampled, Tibetan monks and nuns persecuted, thousands of Tibet's monasteries destroyed in the wake of turning the peaceful land of Tibet into a socialist zone. Even the wildlife of Tibet didn't escape the Comminist madnes and was decimated with vengeance. Today under the Chinese rule danger of extinction looms large over innumerable species as their stamping ground fall prey to the insensitivity of China.


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