Local Tibetans found the carcasses of 20 musk deer and one eagle on June 22, 2016 in the traditional Tibetan area of Kham Dege, located today in Sichuan province. The carcasses along with around 300 steel traps were discovered at a mountain forest near Tsethang village in Menshod Dama township. Tibetans in the village became suspicious when they saw a group of Chinese coming out of the forest which prompted them to investigate and found the dead animals and the large number of traps.
The Tibetans say that the musk deer, which is a recognized protected endangered animal in China, were killed by local Chinese poachers. Two of the Chinese men seen leaving the forest fled the village when a group of Tibetans filed an official complaint and requested the local government and police to take appropriate action. However, the authorities responded by saying that they considered the matter a minor issue, and not important enough to pursue. A police personnel informed the Tibetans that he could collect 50 yuans each, the equivalent of $7.50 US, from the wives of the two Chinese men leaving the village as collateral against the wives also leaving which angered the Tibetans who prize the wild life in their homeland. A Tibetan man named Wangdak wrote an appeal that questioned whether 50 yuan was adequate collateral for killing twenty endangered musk deer, and whether the policeman’s proposal was an appropriate law enforcement measure.
Chamra Drimey Gyaltsen, a native from the region and President of the Dege Gyalyong Welfare Society based in New Delhi, India, says that, “the situation in the area remains volatile,” and expressed concern to the VOA.
Musk from the endangered Tibetan Musk Deer is highly prized for its medicinal benefits and fetch large sums of money in China and the international market. Destruction of wild life across Tibet since the relatively recent arrival of the Chinese in the region has caused a sense of great loss to Tibetans who have a long history of adhering to an edict on the environment called Ngongya Rigya Dum, that bans hunting and disturbing wild areas in order that wild life are left undisturbed. The edict and near universal adherence to it by Tibetans is based on Buddhism’s underlying belief in the sacredness of all living beings.
Preservation of the environment’s natural beauty is held in special high regard by Tibetans in the Dege region which has a rich cultural history of being home to some of the finest centers of Tibetan painting, sculpture, and metal work.