[Federal Register: October 6, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 193)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 57646-57652]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

50 CFR Part 17

RIN 1018-AF49

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Petition 
Finding and Proposed Rule To List the Tibetan Antelope as Endangered 
Throughout Its Range

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Proposed rule; notice of finding.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the 
12-month finding that a petition to list the Tibetan antelope 
(Pantholops hodgsonii) as endangered throughout its range pursuant to 
the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act, or ESA), is 
warranted. The best available information indicates that the total 
population of Tibetan antelope has declined drastically over the past 
three decades. This decline has resulted primarily from overutilization 
for commercial purposes and the inadequacy of existing regulatory 
mechanisms. Habitat impacts, especially those caused by domestic 
livestock grazing, appear to be a contributory factor in the decline, 
and could have potentially greater impacts in the near future. 
Accordingly, we herein propose to list the Tibetan antelope as 
endangered, pursuant to the Act. This proposed rule, if made final, 
would extend the Act's protection to this species. The Service seeks 
data and comments from the public on this proposal.

DATES: Comments and information may be submitted until January 5, 2004. 
Public hearing requests must be received by November 20, 2003.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments, information, and questions to the Chief, 
Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 
N. Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, VA 22203 USA; or by fax, 703-358-2276; or by e-mail, Scientificauthority@fws.gov. Comments and 
supporting information will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the above address.
    To request copies of the regulations regarding listed wildlife or 
inquire about prohibitions or permits, write to: Division of Management 
Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 700, Arlington, VA 22203 USA. 
Alternatively, you may contact us by telephone, 703-358-2104 or toll 
free at 1-800-358-2104; or by fax, 703-358-2276; or by e-mail, Managementauthority@fws.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eleanora Babij at the above address; 
or by telephone, 703-358-1708; or by fax, 703-358-2276; or by e-mail, Scientificauthority@fws.gov.



    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as 
amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), requires the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (Service) to make a finding on whether a petition to list, 
delist, or reclassify a species has presented substantial information 
indicating that the requested action may be warranted. To the maximum 
extent practicable, the finding shall be made within 90 days following 
receipt of the petition (this finding is referred to as the ``90-day 
finding'') and published promptly in the Federal Register. If the 90-
day finding is positive (i.e., the petition has presented substantial 
information indicating that the requested action may be warranted), 
Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires the Service to commence a status 
review of the species if one has not already been initiated under the 
Service's internal candidate assessment process. In addition, Section 
4(b)(3)(B) of the Act also requires the Service to make a finding 
within 12 months following receipt of the petition on whether the 
requested action is warranted, not warranted, or warranted but 
precluded by higher priority listing actions (this finding is referred 
to as the ``12-month finding''). The 12-month finding is also to be 
published promptly in the Federal Register.

Natural History

    The Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii sensu Wilson and Reeder 
1993) is a medium-sized bovid endemic to the Tibetan Plateau in China 
(Tibet Autonomous Region, Xinjiang/Uygur

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Autonomous Region, and Qinghai Province) and small portions of India 
(Ladakh) and western Nepal (although there is no evidence that they 
still occur in Nepal). The Tibetan antelope is also known by its 
Tibetan name ``chiru.'' These two common names will be used 
interchangeably in this document.
    Adult males are characterized by long, slender, antelope-like black 
horns. Although the Tibetan antelope has been placed in the subfamily 
Antilopinae, recent morphological and molecular research indicates that 
it is most closely allied to the goats and other members of the 
subfamily Caprinae (Gentry 1992, Gatesy et al. 1992, both cited in 
Ginsberg et al.1999). The species is uniquely adapted to the high 
elevation and cold, dry climate of the Tibetan Plateau (Schaller 1998). 
The sexes segregate almost completely during the spring and early 
summer (May and June), when adult females and their female young 
migrate north to certain calving grounds and return south by late July 
or early August, covering distances as far as 300 kilometers (km) each 
way (Schaller 1998). Seasonal migrations constitute a critical aspect 
of the chiru's ecology and help define the ecosystem as a whole.

Previous Federal Action

    On October 6, 1999, the Service received a petition from the 
Wildlife Conservation Society (Joshua R. Ginsberg, Ph.D., Director, 
Asia Program, and George B. Schaller, Ph.D., Director of Science) and 
the Tibetan Plateau Project of Earth Island Institute (Mr. Justin Lowe, 
Director) requesting that the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) 
be listed as endangered throughout its entire range. The petition was 
actually dated October 7, 1999, but was received via e-mail the 
previous day.
    On April 14, 2000, the Service made a positive 90-day finding on 
the Wildlife Conservation Society/Tibetan Plateau Project petition 
(i.e., the Service found that the petition presented substantial 
information indicating that the requested action may be warranted). 
That finding was published in the Federal Register on April 25, 2000 
(65 FR 24171), thereby initiating a public comment period and status 
review for the species. The public comment period remained open until 
June 26, 2000. We received 272 comments during the public comment 
period, including 1 from a range country government (People's Republic 
of China), 4 from non-governmental conservation organizations, 41 
(letters) from individuals, 86 (postcards) from individuals, and 1 
letter-petition signed by 140 individuals. All comments fully supported 
an endangered listing for the Tibetan antelope, although only five 
comments provided any new information on the status of or threats to 
the species. Particularly important among these was the letter from Mr. 
Zhen Rende, Director General of the CITES Management Authority of 
China, in which he expressed strong support for an endangered listing 
for the Tibetan antelope under the ESA.
    In our 90-day finding, we stated that we had used all relevant 
literature and information available at that time (April 2000) on 
current status of and threats to the Tibetan antelope. Since then, a 
limited amount of relevant new information has become available as a 
result of the status review and public comment period. That information 
has been incorporated, as appropriate, in this 12-month finding.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Section 4(a)(1) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and regulations 
promulgated to implement the listing provisions of the Act (50 CFR part 
424) set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal lists. 
A species may be determined to be an endangered or threatened species 
on the basis of one or more of the five factors described in section 
4(a)(1). These factors and their application to the Tibetan antelope 
are as follows:

A. Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
its Habitat or Range

    Tibetan antelope are endemic to the high Tibetan Plateau. Most of 
their range lies above 4,000 meters (m) in elevation, but they occur at 
elevations as low as 3,250 m in parts of Xinjiang (Schaller 1998). They 
prefer flat to rolling topography and alpine steppe or similar semiarid 
plant associations (Schaller 1998). They occasionally occur in alpine 
desert steppe habitats, at least on a seasonal basis, but are not known 
to have occurred in Qinghai's Qaidam Basin (Schaller 1998). They do not 
occur in alpine meadow areas receiving greater than 400 millimeters 
(mm) annual precipitation (Schaller 1998).
    Although the current east-west distribution of chiru appears much 
as it was described a century ago by Bower (1894, cited in Schaller 
1998), that distribution is now fragmented where previously it was 
continuous. Schaller (1998) determined that chiru no longer occur, or 
occur in low numbers, in several areas where early explorers noted them 
to be abundant. The current range is divided into two areas: A northern 
one of about 490,000 square kilometers (km2) and a central one of about 
115,000 km2. Distribution between the two areas was continuous until 
recent decades, and there may still be rare contact near the western 
end. However, current chiru populations in the central Chang Tang of 
the Tibet Autonomous Region are highly fragmented and occur in small, 
scattered herds. The range has also contracted in eastern Qinghai 
Province (Schaller 1998).
    Changes in Chinese government policy have led to increasing human 
development and activity on the Tibetan Plateau, including 
transportation development (roads and railways), resource extraction 
activities (minerals, oil, and gas), permanent settlement of 
traditionally nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists, and rangeland use 
for domestic livestock grazing (Ginsberg et al. 1999). These activities 
have already adversely modified or destroyed Tibetan antelope habitat 
in some areas and threaten to modify or destroy habitat over a large 
area in the near future.
    Nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists have grazed a mix of domestic 
livestock (primarily sheep, goats, yaks, and some horses) on the 
Tibetan Plateau for millennia in relative harmony with the environment 
(Miller 2000, 2002). These livestock can directly and indirectly 
compete with Tibetan antelope for available vegetation resources, both 
within and outside established protected areas (Schaller 1998, Ginsberg 
et al. 1999). In recent decades, as a result of government policy 
changes, excessive livestock grazing has degraded or destroyed chiru 
habitat in some areas, and could eventually lead to the destruction of 
some portion of the species' range through physical displacement and/or 
overgrazing, which may contribute to desertification (Ginsberg et al. 
1999, Miller 2001). Recent changes in Chinese Government policy have 
resulted in an attempt to permanently settle many Tibetan pastoralists, 
with a resultant proliferation of rangeland fencing on portions of the 
Plateau (Miller 2000, Los Angeles Times 2002). Livestock frequently 
graze year-round in antelope habitat, and increasingly, nomads are 
fencing for winter-spring grazing and fodder production, thereby 
excluding chiru from the fenced grassland resources. Tibetan antelope 
need open range to survive (Miller and Schaller 1997). Enclosure and 
conversion of grasslands disrupt antelope habitat, posing a particular 
threat in the spring, when weakened chiru are attempting to rebuild 
their energy reserves, and in the

[[Page 57648]]

fall, as antelope are preparing for the harsh winter.
    The Tibetan Plateau has extensive gold deposits. Gold mining can 
have significant impacts on chiru habitat and lead to increased 
poaching. Mining degrades or destroys chiru habitat through 
environmental contamination and disturbance, and through pollution of 
surface waters [U.S. Embassy, China (USEC) 1996]. Illegal mining 
activity also opens another avenue for profiting from poaching (USEC 
1996). Bleisch (1999) noted that illegal gold mining camps in the Arjin 
Shan Reserve in Xinjiang have served as bases for poachers and have 
provided them with essential logistical support and access. Without 
this support, poachers would have a difficult time operating in these 
remote regions. As a result, ``poaching has already had a profound 
impact on the chiru population of the reserve. Several areas where 
calving females formerly congregated are now empty of chiru during the 
calving season'' (Bleisch 1999). In 2002, Rick Ridgeway and Galen 
Rowell spent 2 weeks on foot locating an unknown calving ground in the 
western Chang Tang only to discover that its location was less than 2 
days' overland drive from a new gold mine that had sprung up in the 
previous few months (Ridgeway 2003). They wrote:

    That same dirt road [a 60-mile dirt road built by miners in the 
previous 3 months] gives us an easy way home, as we cart toward our 
waiting vehicle. But it could also give poachers easy access to the 
calving grounds. From the mine we estimate a four-wheel-drive 
vehicle could make it cross-country in 2 days.... With the chiru's 
calving grounds suddenly vulnerable, we feel a new urgency to report 
our findings.

Governments may periodically enforce mining bans in sensitive areas, 
and have done so in Tibet, but in general it is difficult to control 
illegal miners over extensive areas of remote lands with poor road 
access. Tibet has reserves of many other valuable minerals, among them 
uranium, copper, and cesium, and mining of these minerals may also 
impact chiru habitat and lead to poaching.
    Oil exploration and some production have commenced within the 
chiru's range, and pose threats of destroying habitat; polluting the 
environment with toxic production chemicals, effluents, and emissions; 
increasing disturbance levels; and increasing the incidence of poaching 
by drawing additional settlers into the region (Ginsberg et al. 1999). 
In 2001, Chinese researchers announced the discovery of a potentially 
huge oil and gas deposit, extending over 100 km in length, in the 
Qiangtang Basin of the Tibet Autonomous Region (Global Policy Forum 
2001). The deposit could potentially produce hundreds of millions of 
tons of oil.
    Construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, currently in progress, 
threatens to destroy important Tibetan antelope habitat, and, perhaps 
more importantly, significantly disrupt chiru migration corridors in 
southwestern Qinghai Province. One news service report mentioned that 
construction on the railway, the first to link the Tibet Autonomous 
Region with the rest of China, was temporarily suspended in June 2002 
because up to 1,000 migrating chiru were unable to cross the 
construction area (People's Daily 2002, Xinhuanet 2002a). All activity 
was stopped and construction workers removed from the area until these 
animals had passed the construction site. Although the news service 
report mentioned that ``a passage specially for animals will be set 
aside when the railway is built, so as to ensure the free migration for 
wildlife in the locality,'' it is not certain how successful such a 
passage would be in ensuring freedom of movement for thousands of 
migrating chiru.
    Three contiguous protected areas have been established to protect 
Tibetan antelope populations and habitat in western China: Chang Tang 
Nature Reserve (approximately 334,000 km2 in the Tibet 
Autonomous Region), Kekexili (aka Kokoxili or Hoh Xil) National Reserve 
(approximately 45,000 km2 in Qinghai Province), and Arjin 
Shan Reserve (45,000 km2 in Xinjiang Province). A fourth 
protected area, Xianza Reserve (40,000 km2 in the Tibet 
Autonomous Region), also includes some chiru habitat. These reserves 
are only partially effective in protecting the chiru and its habitat 
due to a combination of inadequate management, limited enforcement 
capacity, an influx of settlers, and domestic livestock grazing 
[International Fund for Animal Welfare/Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW/
WTI) 2001]. Miller (1997) has noted that, while many of the protected 
areas in the Tibetan Plateau region encompass high-elevation 
rangelands, protected areas at lower grassland elevations are scarce. 
It has been difficult for reserve staffs to keep poachers and illegal 
gold miners out, a fact that prompted the Qinghai Provincial Government 
in late 1999 to close the Kekexili Reserve to all activities that were 
not expressly authorized in advance by the State Forestry 
Administration (SFA) (China Daily 1999).
    The Chang Tang Reserve staff lacks the funding, experience, 
personnel, and equipment to adequately prevent chiru poaching and other 
threats to the species (SFA 1998). Formerly nomadic pastoralists are 
establishing settlements within the Chang Tang Reserve, and immigrants 
from other parts of the Plateau are moving into protected areas. 
Increased human presence, whether temporary nomadic aggregations or 
permanent human settlements, can adversely affect Tibetan antelope 
habitat and be a detrimental disturbance factor.

B. Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    There are no accurate estimates of Tibetan antelope numbers from 
the past, although the few early western explorers who ventured onto 
the Tibetan Plateau noted the presence of large herds in many areas 
(Schaller 1998). For example, Rawling (1905, cited in Schaller 1998) 
noted: ``Almost from my feet away to the north and east, as far as the 
eye could reach, were thousands upon thousands of doe antelope with 
their young * * *. Everyone in camp turned out to see this beautiful 
sight, and tried, with varying results, to estimate the number of 
animals in view. This was found very difficult * * * as we could see in 
the extreme distance a continuous stream of fresh herds steadily 
approaching; there could not have been less than 15,000 or 20,000 
visible at one time.'' Bonvalot (1892), Wellby (1898), Deasy (1901), 
and Hedin (1903, 1922) made similar observations (all references cited 
in Schaller 1998). Schaller (1999) has suggested that upwards of 1 
million Tibetan antelope roamed the Tibetan Plateau as recently as 40 
to 50 years ago. Historical population estimates of 500,000 to 
1,000,000 appear to be reasonable based on the limited information 
    Although data on the current population dynamics of chiru are 
fragmentary and preliminary (Schaller 1998), it is clear that the total 
population has declined drastically in the past 30 years and is 
continuing to decline at an alarming rate. Schaller (1998) estimated 
that the total population in the mid-1990s may have been as low as 
65,000-75,000 individuals. More recent estimates from China quote a 
population figure of 70,000, although the scientific basis for the 
estimate is not given (Xinhuanet 2002b). If one assumes that the 
historical population of chiru was 500,000 individuals (an apparently 
conservative estimate), then the most recent estimate of 70,000 
represents a population decline of greater than 85 percent.

[[Page 57649]]

    The principal cause of the Tibetan antelope population decline has 
been poaching on a massive scale for the species' fur (wool), known in 
trade as shahtoosh (``king of wool''), which is one of the finest 
animal fibers known (Ginsberg et al. 1999). Shahtoosh is processed into 
high-fashion scarves and shawls in the Indian State of Jammu and 
Kashmir; these items are greatly valued by certain people of wealth and 
fashion around the world. The international demand for chiru fiber and 
shahtoosh products is the most serious threat to the continued 
existence of the Tibetan antelope. Although overall mortality rates are 
not known, poaching mortality was estimated to be as high as 20,000 
individuals per year (SFA 1998). Poaching appears to have declined in 
some areas in recent years (Xinhuanet 2002a), most likely because there 
are not enough animals to warrant an organized poaching effort. But 
Chinese officials acknowledge that ``poaching is still far from being 
eradicated in China.'' (Xinhuanet 2002c). Annual recruitment of young 
has been estimated at around 12 percent (Schaller 1998). If one assumes 
that the total population of chiru is 70,000 individuals and that the 
population is currently declining at a rate of 1,000-3,500 individuals 
per year (admittedly a rough estimate, given available data), then the 
species could go extinct within the next 20 to 70 years. The species' 
role as the dominant native grazing herbivore of the Tibetan Plateau 
ecosystem has already been significantly diminished, and its influence 
on ecosystem structure and function would likely be substantially 
reduced or eliminated well before the species actually goes extinct.
    Although the shahtoosh trade has existed for centuries, killing of 
Tibetan antelope on a widespread, commercial basis probably began only 
in the 1970s or 1980s, resulting from an increase in international 
consumer demand and increased availability of vehicles on the Tibetan 
Plateau. Schaller and Gu (1994) noted that, with the increasing 
availability of vehicles beginning three decades ago, ``truck drivers, 
officials, military personnel and other outsiders also began to shoot 
wildlife * * *.'' Most chiru poaching takes place in the Arjin Shan, 
Chang Tang, and Kekexili Nature Reserves by a variety of hunters, 
including local herders, residents, officials, military personnel, gold 
miners, and truck drivers (Schaller 1993, Schaller and Gu 1994). 
Organized, large-scale poaching rings have developed in some areas. 
Poachers always kill Tibetan antelope to collect their fiber. No cases 
of capture-and-release wool collection are known, nor is naturally shed 
fiber collected from shrubs and grass tufts, as is often claimed 
(primarily by people within the shahtoosh industry). Poachers shear the 
hides, and collect and clean the under-fur of the antelope, or sell the 
hides to dealers who prepare the shahtoosh (Wright and Kumar 1997).
    Schaller speculated that, during the 1980s and 1990s, tens of 
thousands of chiru were killed for their wool (Ginsberg et al. 1999). 
One chiru carcass yields about 125-150 grams (gm) of fiber. In the 
winter of 1992, an estimated 2,000 kilograms (kg) of wool reached 
India, and consignments of 600 kg were seized (and released) in India 
during 1993 and 1994 (Bagla 1995, cited in Ginsberg et al. 1999). This 
amount alone represents 17,000 chiru. In October 1998, 14 poachers in 
the Tibet Autonomous Region were convicted of collectively killing 500 
chiru and purchasing 212 hides, and were sentenced to 3 to 13 years 
imprisonment (Xinhua 1998, cited in Ginsberg et al. 1999). The largest 
enforcement action to date within China, involving several 
jurisdictions and dubbed the ``Hoh Xil Number One Action'' by Chinese 
authorities, resulted in the arrest of 66 poachers and the confiscation 
of 1,658 chiru hides in April and May 1999 (Liu 1999, cited in Ginsberg 
et al. 1999). The IFAW/WTI (2001) report lists 77 known seizures of 
chiru hides, raw shahtoosh, and finished shahtoosh scarves. Recent 
documented seizures have been of 39 kg of raw fiber in March 2001 along 
the Tibet-Nepal border (IFAW/WTI 2001) and 80 shahtoosh shawls in New 
Delhi in March 2002 [Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) News 
2002]. Most recently, a consignment of 211 kg of raw shahtoosh was 
seized by wildlife officials in Delhi in early April 2003 (A. Kumar, 
WTI, pers. comm. with K. Johnson, Division of Scientific Authority, 
April 6, 2003). This quantity of raw wool represents the killing of 
almost 1,800 chiru.
    Shahtoosh is smuggled out of China by truck or animal caravan, 
through Nepal or India, and into the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 
India. This is in violation of the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as well as domestic 
laws of the countries involved. The shahtoosh industry in the Srinagar 
region of Jammu and Kashmir is controlled by a wealthy, influential 
group of 12 to 20 families (Wright and Kumar 1997). There are about 100 
to 120 family-run manufacturing operations that employ upwards of 
20,000 people who prepare, weave, and finish the raw shahtoosh into 
scarves and shawls (IFAW/WTI 2001). The scarves are sold throughout 
India and smuggled abroad in violation of Indian law, CITES, and 
domestic legislation in many of the importing countries (Wright and 
Kumar 1997). Shahtoosh products have been made in Jammu and Kashmir for 
centuries, but the current high levels of poaching are a result of 
consumer demand in the West, including the United States.
    Chiru are also killed for their horns (used in traditional 
medicinal practices), hides, and meat (Ginsberg et al. 1999), although 
these uses are secondary to the use of fiber.

C. Disease or Predation

    Schaller (1998) documented Tibetan antelope mortality caused by 
disease and predators such as the wolf (Canis lupus), snow leopard 
(Uncia uncia), lynx (Lynx lynx), brown bear (Ursus arctos), and 
domestic dog (Canis familiaris). He suggested that wolf predation may 
at one time have been a substantial mortality factor for chiru, 
particularly on the calving grounds. At the present time, neither 
disease nor predation is considered to threaten or endanger the species 
in any portion of its range. However, one or both of these factors may 
become more significant as populations decline and become increasingly 
fragmented because of other mortality factors.

D. Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The Tibetan antelope was listed in Appendix II of CITES in 1975; it 
was transferred to Appendix I in 1979. All three countries that 
comprise the species' natural geographic range--China, Nepal, and 
India--are CITES Parties. The only reservation ever held on the species 
was taken by Switzerland in 1979 and withdrawn in October 1998. The 
Tibetan antelope is protected at a national level by China, Nepal, and 
    In China, the chiru is a Class 1 protected species under the Law of 
the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Wildlife (1989), 
which prohibits all killing except by special permit from the central 
government. Although China has expended considerable effort and 
resources in an attempt to control poaching, it has been unable to do 
so (SFA 1998) because of the magnitude of the poaching, the extensive 
geographic areas involved, and the high value of shahtoosh, which gives 
poachers great incentive to continue their illegal activities. On 
several occasions, China has appealed to other governments and 
organizations to eliminate the demand for and

[[Page 57650]]

production of shahtoosh products, most recently at the 1999 
International Workshop on Conservation and Control of Trade in Tibetan 
Antelope held in Xining, China, in October 1999 and in a Resolution 
adopted at the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES 
in Kenya in April 2000 (Resolution Conf. 11.8). China re-iterated its 
commitment to Tibetan antelope conservation at the 12th Meeting of the 
Conference of the Parties to CITES in Santiago, Chile, in November 2002 
(Resolution Conf. 11.8 Rev. COP12 and Decision 12.40).
    In Nepal, the chiru is listed as an endangered species under 
Schedule I of Nepal's National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 
(1973) (Wright and Kumar 1997). Smugglers use Nepal as a transit route 
from China to India (Government of Nepal 1999), and recent 
investigations by WWF Nepal Program and TRAFFIC India have documented 
the routes used. Although Nepal has made some effort to stop the 
illegal trade, including the confiscation of several shahtoosh 
shipments, it has been unable to eliminate or control the trade. This 
has, in part, resulted from the lack of CITES-implementing legislation 
at a national level (Government of Nepal 1999). In its national report 
to the International Workshop on Conservation and Control of Trade in 
Tibetan Antelope in October 1999, the Government of Nepal indicated 
that it had recently prepared CITES-implementing legislation, which was 
awaiting approval by the Government (Government of Nepal 1999). That 
legislation apparently had not yet been enacted as of the 46th Meeting 
of the CITES Standing Committee (SC) in March 2002 (SC46 Doc. 11.1).
    In India, the chiru is listed on Schedule I of the Wildlife 
Protection Act (1972), which prohibits hunting and trade in any part of 
the species (Wright and Kumar 1997). The northern Indian State of Jammu 
and Kashmir has a separate wildlife act, The Jammu and Kashmir Wild 
Life Protection Act (1978) (J&K Act), which is independent of national 
law. Chiru are listed on Schedule II of the J&K Act. Trade in Schedule 
II species, including shahtoosh, is permitted under certain conditions. 
The J&K Act specifies that state permission is required to possess 
Schedule II wildlife products, that unlicensed dealers are prohibited 
from selling these products, and that licensed dealers are required to 
report to the government any import of Schedule II animal products 
(Ginsberg et al. 1999). Despite the fact that no shahtoosh dealers have 
ever been licensed (Government of India 1999), the production and sale 
of shahtoosh shawls and other products have continued in Jammu and 
Kashmir. On May 1, 2000, in response to public interest litigation 
filed by the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), the High 
Court of Jammu and Kashmir ruled that the shahtoosh trade was in 
violation of the J&K Act, CITES, and India's Export-Import Policy 
(IFAW/WTI 2001). The Government of Jammu and Kashmir set about to bring 
its law into compliance with national legislation and CITES, but that 
has not yet been completed, and the shahtoosh trade has continued. In 
May 2001, WPSI and WTI filed a contempt of court petition against the 
Jammu and Kashmir Government.
    Sale of shahtoosh shawls occurs elsewhere in India as well, 
although prohibited by national law. And, despite the fact that CITES 
and India's Customs Law prohibit the commercial import and export of 
shahtoosh and shahtoosh products, raw shahtoosh fiber still enters 
India and finished products still leave. Indian authorities have made a 
number of seizures of raw fiber and finished products over the years 
(Wright and Kumar 1997, Government of India 1999), but, because of the 
conflict with Jammu and Kashmir, have been unable to end the production 
of shahtoosh products.
    In the United States, the Appendix-I listing for the Tibetan 
antelope has not been adequate to control the import and sale of 
shahtoosh products. Although several investigations have revealed a 
market for shahtoosh products in the United States, the first 
successful prosecution was in 2001. On May 29, 2001, a Los Angeles-
based clothier agreed to pay a $175,000 civil settlement for importing 
and selling shahtoosh shawls in violation of the ESA and the Lacey Act 
(Press Release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey, 
dated May 29, 2001).
    CITES provisions of the Endangered Species Act prohibit engaging in 
trade contrary to CITES and the possession of any specimen traded 
contrary to CITES. Thus, once a shahtoosh shawl is successfully 
smuggled into the United States, enforcement officers must prove the 
unlawful import in order to seize that shawl. Listing the Tibetan 
antelope under the Act would prohibit the sale or offering for sale of 
shahtoosh products in interstate or foreign commerce. This would give 
U. S. prosecutors additional means of fighting shahtoosh smuggling and 
the illegal market within the United States.

E. Other Natural or Manmade Factors

    Tibetan antelope are known to have died from exposure and 
malnutrition associated with severe winter weather (Schaller 1998). A 
blizzard in Qinghai Province killed a disproportionate number of young 
and yearlings, and resulted in reproductive failure in the following 

Summary of Findings

    The Service has reviewed the information presented in the original 
petition, the literature cited in that petition, all public comments 
received, and other available literature and information. On the basis 
of the best scientific and commercial information available, the 
Service's 12-month finding is that the petitioned action is warranted. 
The best available information indicates that the total population of 
Tibetan antelope has declined drastically over the past three decades. 
This decline has resulted primarily from overutilization for commercial 
purposes and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms. Habitat 
impacts, especially those caused by domestic livestock grazing, appear 
to be a contributory factor in the decline, and could have potentially 
greater impacts in the near future. Accordingly, we herein propose to 
list the Tibetan antelope as endangered throughout its range, pursuant 
to the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended. Public comments on 
this proposed rule will be solicited, as will peer review (see 
subsequent sections of this Federal Register document).

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act include recognition, 
recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions 
against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in 
public awareness, and encourages and results in conservation actions by 
Federal and State governments, private agencies and groups, and 
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
the impact of their actions within the United States or on the high 
seas on any species that is proposed or listed as endangered or 
threatened, and on critical habitat of an endangered or threatened 
species, if any is designated. Because the Tibetan antelope is not 
native to the United States, we are not proposing to designate critical 

[[Page 57651]]

for the species, in accordance with 50 CFR 424.12(h). With respect to 
the Tibetan antelope, no Federal activities, other than the issuance of 
CITES import and export permits, are currently required. Listing of the 
Tibetan antelope as endangered under the Act would require the issuance 
of ESA import and export permits by the Service's Division of 
Management Authority (DMA), and consequently a consultation with the 
Service's Division of Scientific Authority (DSA) under Section 7 of the 
Act prior to the issuance of any permit.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
prohibitions and exceptions that generally apply to all endangered 
wildlife. The prohibitions, codified at 50 CFR 17.21, in part, make it 
illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States 
to take (includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, 
capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these), within U.S. territory 
or on the high seas, import or export, ship in interstate commerce in 
the course of a commercial activity, or sell or offer for sale in 
interstate or foreign commerce, any listed species. It also is illegal 
to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife 
that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees or 
agents of the Service, and State conservation agencies. The interstate 
commerce prohibitions will be especially useful to the Service's 
efforts to curtail any illegal shahtoosh trade within the United 
    Permits may be issued to carry out otherwise prohibited activities 
involving endangered wildlife species under certain circumstances. 
Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22 and 17.23. 
Such permits are available for scientific research purposes, for 
enhancement of the propagation or survival of the species, and/or for 
incidental take in the course of otherwise lawful activities. Because 
the Tibetan antelope is listed in Appendix I of CITES, a CITES permit 
is already required for import to or export from the United States. 
Under this rulemaking, an ESA permit would also be required for import 
or export of Tibetan antelopes to the United States. Prior to issuance 
of a permit, DMA would need to consult with DSA under Section 7 of the 
Act, as well as make its own determination that the application 
satisfies the permit-issuance criteria (i.e., research or enhancement 
of propagation or survival).

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service intends that any final action resulting from this 
proposal will be based on the most accurate and up-to-date information 
possible. Therefore, comments or suggestions from the public, other 
concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or 
any other interested party concerning this proposed rule are hereby 
solicited. Comments particularly are sought concerning biological, 
commercial trade, or other relevant data concerning any threat to this 
species. Final action on this proposed rule will take into 
consideration the comments and any additional information received by 
the Service, and such communications may lead to a final action that 
differs from this proposal.
    Our practice is to make comments, including names and home 
addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular 
business hours. Commenters may request that we withhold their home 
addresses, and we will honor these requests to the extent allowable by 
law. In some circumstances, we may also withhold a commenter's 
identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name or 
address, you must state this request prominently at the beginning of 
your comment. However, we will not consider anonymous comments. To the 
extent consistent with applicable law, we will make all submissions 
from organizations or businesses, and from individuals identifying 
themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or 
businesses, available for public comment in their entirety. Comments 
and materials received will be available for public inspection, by 
appointment, during normal business hours at the above address.
    The Endangered Species Act provides for one or more public hearings 
on this proposal, if requested. Requests must be received within 45 
days of the date of the publication of this proposal in the Federal 
Register. Such requests must be made in writing and be addressed to: 
Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 
750, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

Peer Review

    In accordance with our policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 
34270), we will seek expert opinions of at least three appropriate 
independent specialists regarding this proposed rule. The purpose of 
such review is to ensure that listing decisions are based on 
scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analysis. We will send 
copies of this proposed rule immediately following publication in the 
Federal Register to these peer reviewers.

National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that Environmental Assessments and Environmental 
Impact Statements, as defined under the authority of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969, need not be prepared in connection 
with regulations adopted pursuant to section 4(a) of the Endangered 
Species Act of 1973, as amended.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This rule contains no new information collection requirements under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. An agency may not conduct or 
sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of 
information unless it displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

References Cited

Bagla, P. 1995. Sustainable tigers? BBC Wildlife 15(5): 55.
Bleisch, W. 1999. Pers. Comm. to the Tibetan Plateau Project via e-
Bonvalot, G. 1892. Across Tibet. Cassell, New York.
Bower, H. 1894. Diary of a journey across Tibet. Macmillan, New 
China Daily. 1999. Qinghai closes nature reserve. December 30, 1999.
Deasy, H. 1901. In Tibet and Chinese Turkestan. Longmans Green, New 
Gatesy, J., D. Yelon, R. DeSalle, and E. Vrba. 1992. Phylogeny of 
the Bovidae (Artiodactyla, Mammalia), based on mitochondrial 
ribosomal DNA sequence. Mol. Biol. Evol. 9: 433-446.
Gentry, A. 1992. The subfamilies and tribes of the family Bovidae. 
Mammal Review 22: 1-32.
Ginsberg, J. R., G. B. Schaller, and J. Lowe. 1999. Petition to list 
the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) as an endangered species 
pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. Wildlife 
Conservation Society and Tibetan Plateau Project.
Global Policy Forum. 2001. Potentially massive oil and gas find in 
Tibet. September 5, 2001. (http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/natres/oil/China/2001/0905disc.htm
Government of India. 1999. Chiru and shahtoosh. Paper presented by 
S.C. Sharma at 1999 International Workshop on Conservation and 
Control of Trade in Tibetan Antelope, Xining, China. October 1999.
Government of Nepal. 1999. Some facts, problems and working 
strategies of shahtoosh trade in Nepal. Paper presented by T. Maskey 
at 1999 International Workshop on Conservation and Control of Trade 
in Tibetan Antelope, Xining, China. October 1999.
Hedin, S. 1903. Central Asia and Tibet. 2 vols. Hurst and Blackett, 
Hedin, S. [1922]. 1991. Southern Tibet. Vols. 3 and 4. Reprinted by 
B. R. Publ. Corp., Delhi.

[[Page 57652]]

IFAW/WTI (International Fund for Animal Welfare and Wildlife Trust 
of India). 2001. Wrap up the trade: An international campaign to 
save the endangered Tibetan antelope. 79 pp.
Liu, J. 1999. China resolves to end chiru poaching. China Daily, 
June 30, 1999.
Los Angeles Times. 2002. Progress hems in nomadic herders of Tibet. 
August 10, 2002.
Miller, D. J. 1997. A photo essay of Himalayan and Tibetan 
pastoralism. In: Rangelands and pastoral development in the Hindu 
Kush-Himalayas. International Centre for Integrated Mountain 
Development, Kathmandu.
Miller, D. J. 2000. Tough times for Tibetan nomads in Western China: 
Snowstorms, settling down, fences, and the demise of traditional 
nomadic pastoralism. Nomadic Peoples 4(1): 83-109.
Miller, D. J. 2001. Poverty among Tibetan nomads in western China: 
Profiles of poverty and strategies for poverty reduction. Paper 
prepared for Tibet Development Symposium, May 4-6, 2001, Brandeis 
Miller, D. J. 2002. The importance of China's nomads. Rangelands 
24(1): 22-24.
Miller, D. J., and G. B. Schaller. 1997. Conservation threats to the 
Chang Tang wildlife reserve, Tibet. Ambio 26(3).
People's Daily. 2002. Railway construction makes way for rare 
antelope. August 7, 2002.
Rawling, C. 1905. The great plateau. Edward Arnold, London.
Ridgeway, R. 2003. 275 miles on foot through the remote Chang Tang. 
National Geographic Magazine 203: 104-125.
Schaller, G. B. 1993. In a high and sacred realm. National 
Geographic Magazine 184.
Schaller, G. B. 1998. Wildlife of the Tibetan steppe. The University 
of Chicago Press, Chicago. 373 pp.
Schaller, G. B. 1999. Natural history of Tibetan antelope. Paper 
presented by G.B. Schaller at 1999 International Workshop on 
Conservation and Control of Trade in Tibetan Antelope, Xining, 
China. October 1999.
Schaller, G. B. and B. Gu. 1994. Comparative ecology of ungulates in 
the Aru Basin of northwest Tibet. National Geographic Research and 
Exploration 10: 266-293.
SFA (State Forestry Administration). 1998. Conservation status of 
the Tibet antelope. China State Forestry Administration. December 
1998. 4 pp.
USEC (United States Embassy China). 1996. Gold mining in China: 
Taming the wild west. USEC Web site (http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn/english/sandt/goldw.htm
Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder. 1993. Mammal species of the world: 
A taxonomic and geographic reference. 2nd ed. Smithsonian 
Institution Press, Washington, DC 1206 pp.
WPSI News (Wildlife Protection Society of India). 2002. 80 shahtoosh 
shawls seized in Delhi. March 18, 2002.
Wright, B. and A. Kumar. 1997. Fashioned for extinction: An expose 
of the shahtoosh trade. Wildlife Protection Society of India, New 
Delhi. 48 pp.
Xinhua. 1998. Tibet punishes poachers. October 28, 1998.
Xinhuanet. 2002a. Railway suspended for Tibetan antelope migration. 
June 26, 2002.
Xinhuanet. 2002b. China curbs poaching of Tibetan antelopes. October 
29, 2002.
Xinhuanet. 2002c. Extinction of Tibetan antelopes ``very possible'' 
if poaching persists: expert. August 19, 2002.
Zhen, R. 2000. For future of [the] Tibetan antelope: Proceedings of 
the 1999 International Workshop on Conservation and Control of Trade 
in Tibetan Antelope held in Xining, China in October, 1999. 147 pp.


    The primary author of this proposed rule is Dr. Kurt A. Johnson, 
Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 
North Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

Proposed Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we hereby propose to amend part 17, subchapter B of 
chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth 


    1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 16 U.S.C. 1531-1544; 16 U.S.C. 
4201-4245; Pub. L. 99-625, 100 Stat. 3500; unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 17.11(h) is amended by adding the following, in 
alphabetical order under MAMMALS, to the List of Endangered and 
Threatened Wildlife:

Sec.  17.11  Endangered and threatened wildlife.

* * * * *
    (h) * * *

                        Species                                                    Vertebrate
--------------------------------------------------------                        population where                                  Critical     Special
                                                            Historic range       endangered or         Status      When listed    habitat       rules
           Common name                Scientific name                              threatened

                                                                      * * * * * * *
Antelope, Tibetan (Chiru)........  Pantholops hodgsonii  China, India, Nepal  Entire.............  E               ...........           NA           NA

                                                                      * * * * * * *

    Dated: August 21, 2003.
Marshall P. Jones,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 03-25207 Filed 10-3-03; 8:45 am]