Letters

Recovered Tibetan antelope at risk again

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Science  11 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6462, pp. 194
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz2900

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  • Accounting for the long lasting unexpected impacts of climate change on the Tibetan antelope survival
    • Shanlong Lu, Associate Professor, Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences
    • Other Contributors:
      • Fu Chen, Associate Professor, Key Laboratory of Digital Earth Science, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences
      • Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary general, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation
      • Alice C. Hughes, Associate Professor, Centre for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences

    Pei et al. (Letters, 11 October 2019, P. 194) (1) claim the potential obstruction of the traditional migration route caused by the flood event is the major risk for antelope survival, yet this misses the ongoing impacts which is already impacting on antelope populations.
    The south bank of Zonag Lake is the main gathering place for calving (2), and the 2011 outburst of Zonag Lake only cut off the route of Tibetan antelope from the riverbed to the grassland on the north bank (3).
    Yet population decreases of calving Tibetan antelopes on the south bank has resulted from more than route obstruction alone (4), but the lasting impact of the former flood has created a dust bowl on the degraded lake bed, causing frequent sandstorms. Prior to the former flood sandstorms are not recorded, yet since the flood they occur almost daily during the period from November to March each year (5, 6). The sand and dust burying the grazing lands and potentially destroying the food supply of the antelope and has already formed a desertification landscape (3, 6).
    To counter climate driven events in the region scientific research institutions, non-governmental organizations and the media (5, 7, 8), and the central government and Qinghai provincial government have already focused on and planned invest more financial funds (9) to develop safeguards for the region, such as stabilizing and replanting the bare lake bed. Climate events pose a genuine risk in fragile ecosystems like Qingh...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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