Tibetan herders struggle to clean huge piles of garbage that threaten UNESCO-listed Ho Xil nature reserve in Qinghai

Tibetan nomad in Eastern Tibet. (Photo courtesy: Reurinkjan)

(TibetanReview.net, Jun22’21) – After launching a vigorous campaign to have the Hoh Xil Nature Reserve in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo that is now known as Qinghai Province to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017, China has done little to protect it from being ravaged by accumulations of garbage dumped by travelers, motorists and others. Local Tibetan herders are now being made to clean up parts of it.

The garbage has piled up for years in spots around what is described in the UNESCO listing as “the largest and highest plateau in the world”.

Huge piles of garbage now threaten to destroy the nature reserve, reported The Economic Observer, a Beijing-based independent weekly Jun 20.

One particularly ravaged spot is a 656-foot long and 65-ft wide ‘garbage belt,’ filled with anything from plastic, cans, and paint buckets to sheep and yak carcasses, the report said.

It said the garbage belt ran along the Qinghai-Tibet Highway, a national road used heavily by tourists and long-distance truckers.

Hundreds of local herders were called in by officials to aid with the clean-up, but were struggling to finish the job due to the sheer amount of trash, reported the scmp.com Jun 21.

The report said the swells of trash had raised concerns for wildlife in the nature reserve — a 32,000 square-mile area that hosts over 230 animal species, including the Tibetan antelope.

Li Junsheng, a deputy director of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Science at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, has told the official globaltimes.cn Jun 21 that the garbage could poison animals and humans and pollute water in the region.

The nature reserve is part of China’s first national park, the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, which covers 47,500 square miles in total.


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