The recent border standoff between India and China has impacted not just the peace process between the two countries, but also a peace-loving species — the Tibetan antelope.
Reason: Its only natural habitat in India — Ladakh’s Chang Chenmo Valley and Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) — was also the flashpoint of the crisis.
The Tibetan antelope, also known as the chiru, famed for its luxurious shahtoosh wool, is a critically endangered species — the global head count is 40,000 to 50,000.
It is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, which is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
“The species is averse to heavy movements of machines and men,” Leh wildlife warden Intesar Suhail told the HT.
On April 15, a contingent of 50 Chinese soldiers took up positions in DBO, 19 km inside Indian territory.
The Indian Army also stepped up military activity, took to aggressive patrolling and ramped up infrastructure on the Indian side of the LAC.
The crisis was finally defused in May, but not before it had disturbed this fragile species.
The border fortification had also affected the chiru’s movement. “The areas of the Chang Chenmo valley and DBO are the only two routes used by it to move in the area,” said Suhail.
The wildlife department has also highlighted the issue of dogs accompanying troops posted in the area.
Dogs chase many ungulate species, including chiru, and harm them, according to the wildlife department’s communiqué to the government.