[Federal Register: March 29, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 60)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 15620-15629]
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; Final Rule To List 
the Tibetan Antelope as Endangered Throughout Its Range

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine 
that the classification of the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) 
as endangered throughout its range is warranted, pursuant to the 
Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et 
seq.). The best available information indicates that the total 
population of Tibetan antelope has declined drastically over the past 
three decades such that it is in danger of extinction throughout all or 
a significant portion of its range. 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 are listing the Tibetan antelope as 
endangered, pursuant to the Act.

DATES: This rule is effective April 28, 2006.

ADDRESSES: The complete supporting file for this rule is available for 
public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours at the 
Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 
N. Fairfax Drive, Room 750, Arlington, Virginia 22203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division of 
Scientific Authority, at the above address; or by telephone, 703-358-
1708; fax, 703-358-2276; or e-mail, ScientificAuthority@fws.gov.



    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 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.''
    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). 
Seasonal migrations constitute a critical aspect of the Tibetan 
antelope's ecology and help define its ecosystem as a whole. The sexes 
segregate almost completely during the spring and early summer (May and 
June), when adult females and their female young migrate north to 
calving grounds. They return south by late July or early August, 
covering distances up to 300 kilometers (km) each way (Schaller 1998).

Previous Federal Action

    Section 4(b)(3)(A) of the Act requires the Service to make a 
finding known as a ``90-day 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 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. 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 (Justin Lowe, Director) requesting that the 
Tibetan antelope be listed as endangered throughout its entire range. 
The petition was actually dated October 7, 1999, but was received via 
electronic 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.
    In our 90-day finding, we stated that we had reviewed and 
considered all known relevant literature and information available at 
that time (April 2000) on the 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 was incorporated, as 
appropriate, in the 12-month finding, which was published on October 6, 
2003 (68 FR 57646). Together with the 12-month finding, in that 
document we proposed to list the Tibetan antelope as endangered 
throughout its range, and we sought public comments until January 5, 
    In accordance with the Interagency Cooperative Policy for Peer 
Review in Endangered Species Act Activities published on July 1, 1994 
(59 FR 34270), we selected three appropriate independent specialists to 
review the proposed rule. The purpose of such review is to ensure that 
listing decisions are based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, 
and analysis. We selected three appropriate independent specialists to 
review the proposed rule who have considerable knowledge and field 
experience in Tibetan antelope biology and conservation. We also sent 
letters requesting comments from the Management and Scientific 
Authorities for CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered 
Species of Wild

[[Page 15621]]

Fauna and Flora) in the range countries of China, India, and Nepal.

Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We received 272 comments during the public comment period on the 
90-day finding, including 1 comment from a range country government 
(People's Republic of China), 4 comments from non-governmental 
organizations, 41 letters from individuals, 86 postcards from 
individuals, and 1 letter of 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 Zhen Rende, Director General of the CITES 
Management Authority of China, in which he expressed strong support for 
listing the species as endangered. The comments were used in the 
development of the proposed rule to list the species.
    During the comment period for the proposed rule, we received 11 
comments: 2 from range countries, 3 from peer reviewers, 4 from non-
governmental organizations, and 2 from private individuals. Except for 
one reviewer and a private individual, all comments were strongly 
supportive of the endangered listing.
    A range country Scientific Authority response was received from Mr. 
Wang Sung, Research Professor, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of 
Sciences, and Executive Vice Chairman, Endangered Species Scientific 
Commission, Beijing, China. We also received a response from The 
Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), a non-governmental organization, in New 
Delhi, India. These commenters supported the listing rule.
    With the exceptions of the peer reviewers, range country contacts, 
a private individual, and William Bleisch, PhD, China Programme 
Manager, Fauna and Flora International, Beijing, China, all other 
comments were submitted by the following organizations: American Zoo 
and Aquarium Association (AZA), Earth Island Institute (EII), The 
Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and International Fund for 
Animal Welfare (IFAW). Most of the comments supported listing the 
Tibetan antelope as endangered.

Opposition to the Proposed Listing of the Tibetan Antelope as 

    There were two opponents to listing the Tibetan antelope as 
endangered. These were one private individual and one peer reviewer.
    Issue 1: The private individual claimed that the proposed rule 
relied on anecdotal population information and lacked quantitative 
trend data necessary to determine whether or not the population is 
declining. This person also noted that, even if a decline is 
determined, it may be indicative of a natural long-term population 
    Service Response 1: In making our determination, the Service relied 
on the best available scientific information. Thorough population 
censuses are difficult with this species due to its relative isolation 
and the harsh environment of the Tibetan Plateau. We have received 
population information from experts, such as Dr. George B. Schaller, 
who has observed the Tibetan antelope throughout its range and has 
estimated and compared current and historical population numbers and 
distribution. Based on our review of the literature and comments we 
received, Dr. Schaller's 1998 estimate remains the best scientific 
estimate of the Tibetan antelope population.
    Additional quantification of a decline was provided by a reviewer 
and another commenter. The reviewer commented that the Service failed 
to include the quantitative trend assessment of Tibetan antelope in 
Yeniugou, Qinghai Province, China (Harris et al. 1999). Observations 
made on foot and horseback as well as interviews with local and 
provincial officials indicated that the population of Tibetan antelope 
declined from over 2,000 animals in 1991 to 2 animals (observed) in 
1997. The authors concluded that an entire subpopulation of the Tibetan 
antelope can be extirpated in the short term. They hypothesized that 
the decline may be due to increased poaching or the antelope moving to 
alternative areas, or both. The commenter provided population estimates 
that indicated a decline from 13.6 individuals/km\2\ to 5.9 
individuals/km\2\ between 1991 and 2001 in the summer calving grounds 
north of Mount Muztagh Ulugh in Xinjiang Province, China (Bleisch et 
al. unpublished). The decline was attributed solely to poaching. It 
should be noted that a decline caused by natural, non-anthropogenic 
factors could also place a species in danger of extinction throughout 
all or a significant portion of its range.
    Issue 2: The Service provided few details regarding the threat of 
habitat destruction.
    Service Response 2: We disagree. The Service has reviewed the 
scientific literature and explained that human activities, such as 
resource extraction, livestock grazing, and road or railway 
construction, have resulted in habitat fragmentation or desertification 
throughout the range of the Tibetan antelope. We described some 
specific projects and how they have obstructed Tibetan antelope 
migration routes to calving grounds (See Factor A below).
    Issue 3: It is unclear what conservation benefits will accrue to 
the Tibetan antelope from listing under the Act. The species is listed 
in CITES Appendix-I, yet current laws within range countries do not 
seem to effectively deter poaching or habitat loss.
    Service Response 3: Listings under the Act are not restricted to 
species that will benefit from the protections of the Act. Rather, the 
Act calls for listing if the species meets the definitions of 
endangered or threatened, following an analysis of threats factors. In 
addition, the protections of the Act, along with the current 
protections under CITES, may provide a conservation benefit by further 
limiting import and export from the United States. Upon listing, import 
and export into and from the United States as well as movement and sale 
in interstate or foreign commerce of Tibetan antelope, including parts 
and products, will be prohibited under the Act unless authorized. Such 
activities can be authorized, but only for scientific purposes or to 
enhance the propagation or survival of the species. Thus, for example, 
if the Service receives an application to import a live Tibetan 
antelope or Tibetan antelope parts or products, the import can only 
occur if the Service determines that the activity is for scientific 
purposes or will enhance the propagation or survival of the species.

Support for the Proposed Listing of the Tibetan Antelope as Endangered

    Issue 1: One reviewer noted that the only quantitative trend 
assessment of any Tibetan antelope population (Harris et al. 1999) was 
not cited in the proposed rule. The commenter provided a copy of the 
    Service Response 1: We acknowledge the oversight and are including 
the assessment in our Summary of Factors Affecting the Species (Factor 
B) analysis. The article strengthens our conclusion that wild 
populations have declined precipitously in the short term.
    Issue 2: In the proposed rule, we had concluded that fences will 
have the effect of excluding Tibetan antelope from grassland needed for 
forage (68 FR 57647). One reviewer claimed that although this may be a 
legitimate concern, there is no data to support the statement for this 
    Service Response 2: We reported that changes in Chinese Government 

[[Page 15622]]

have resulted in an attempt to permanently settle many Tibetan 
pastoralists. This has led to a proliferation of rangeland fencing on 
portions of the Tibetan Plateau (Miller 2000, Los Angeles Times 2002). 
Increasingly, nomads are fencing grasslands for livestock grazing and 
fodder production, thereby excluding Tibetan antelope from the fenced 
areas. Tibetan antelope need open range to survive (Miller and Schaller 
1997). Thus, fencing reduces habitat that would otherwise be available 
to Tibetan antelope.
    Issue 3: The same reviewer added that gold mining in Qinghai 
Province, China, is declining. Another reviewer stated that itinerant 
gold mining in China has until recently been legal.
    Service Response 3: Professor Wang of the Chinese Academy of 
Sciences agreed with the proposed rule and emphasized that human 
activity, including road construction and mining (legal and illegal), 
is detrimental to the species' survival. These activities are discussed 
in the proposed rule and Factor A (below).
    Issue 4: A reviewer indicated that there has been increased 
coordination of anti-poaching activities in Qinghai, Xinjiang, and 
Tibet, which included a workshop in Xinjiang in 2002. According to one 
organization, workshop participants included national and local 
agencies from China and the Tibet Autonomous Region. The workshop 
resulted in a resolution calling for increased habitat protection, in 
situ conservation of the Tibetan antelope, and international 
collaboration to eliminate illegal trade. In addition, the CITES 
Management Authority of China and the CITES Secretariat convened an 
enforcement workshop in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in August 2003. 
The workshop covered international and national wildlife law 
enforcement, intelligence techniques, and collaboration with other 
international law enforcement agencies as well as national agencies.
    Service Response 4: The workshop information has been considered in 
the Factor D analysis of this rule.
    Issue 5: One reviewer noted that the Service erred in saying that 
the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act has not been amended to 
comply with India's national wildlife protection law (68 FR 57650). The 
reviewer stated that the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Act was 
amended in June 2002 so that the Tibetan antelope has been elevated 
from Schedule II to Schedule I of the Act, thus providing complete 
protection to the species, parts, and products. While the amendment 
conforms to the national wildlife protection act, the Government of 
Jammu and Kashmir is not implementing the new provision, and the 
manufacture of shahtoosh shawls and trade continues in that State. The 
reviewer provided photographs, a testimonial letter from a visitor from 
the United States, and a newspaper article attesting to the weaving and 
sale of the shawls in the State. Indeed, the WTI has filed a case in 
the Supreme Court of India against the State of Jammu and Kashmir to 
force the implementation of the amended wildlife law. The CITES 
Secretariat prepared a document for the 13th Meeting of the Conference 
of the Parties to CITES in which the Parties were asked to support new 
language in Resolution Conf. 11.8 (Rev. CoP12) ``* * * that the State 
of Jammu and Kashmir in India halts the processing of such wool and the 
manufacture of shahtoosh products'' (CITES Secretariat 2004). However, 
the new language was rejected by the Conference of the Parties (October 
2-14, 2004). So culturally entrenched is shahtoosh shawl manufacturing 
in Jammu and Kashmir that a recent WTI-IFAW census of shahtoosh workers 
indicated that 14,293 individuals were directly involved in shahtoosh 
production (Gopinath et al. 2003, submitted during the comment period). 
This number appears to be lower than expected and declining due to 
legal restrictions and alternative employment for pashmina production 
(cashmere from the domesticated mountain goat Capra hircus).
    One reviewer noted that a study conducted by the WTI in partnership 
with IFAW in December 2003 found shahtoosh shawls available illegally 
to tourists in New Delhi and other towns in India. From his study of 
the shahtoosh trade since 1992, Dr. Ashok Kumar, Senior Advisor and 
Trustee, WTI, observed that methods of concealment and porous borders 
between Tibet, India, and Nepal have made enforcement of Tibetan 
antelope protection laws difficult. Indeed, in 2004, the Dubai 
Government seized 100 shahtoosh shawls from Kahmiri traders (Bindra 
2004). The shawls are believed to have been manufactured in India.
    Service Response 5: The new information about the Jammu and Kashmir 
shahtoosh trade was considered in the Factor D analysis of this rule.
    Issue 6: One reviewer recommended that the United States adopt a 
registration scheme for privately owned shahtoosh shawls as India has 
    Service Response 6: Such a process would be difficult to 
administer. However, once the listing becomes effective, the Service's 
Office of Law Enforcement will seek information on the legal origin of 
shawls (for example, if the shawl qualifies under the pre-Act 
exemption) if there is evidence of a violation of the Act.
    Issue 7: New information that strengthens our argument for listing 
the Tibetan antelope as endangered was provided by Dr. William Bleisch, 
China Programme Manager, Fauna and Flora International, Beijing, China. 
Since 1998, Dr. Bleisch has been working on a Tibetan antelope 
conservation project in the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve and has 
recently been involved in community-based wildlife conservation in the 
Qinghai Province of China. To our list of protected Tibetan antelope 
populations and habitat in western China (68 FR 57648), Dr. Bleisch 
added the recent approval by the Chinese Government of the Snowlands 
Three Rivers Source National Nature Reserve (158,000 km\2\ in Qinghai 
Province) and the Mid-Kunlun Mountains Nature Reserve (size not 
provided, in Xinjiang Province). He noted that the five contiguous 
reserves protect most of the remaining habitat for Tibetan antelope. 
Based on his experience, Dr. Bleisch commented that the reserves are 
only partially effective in protecting the Tibetan antelope because of 
the impact of illegal mining operations, inconsistencies in 
governmental jurisdiction, and lack of environmental safeguards. He 
also provided unpublished population information on Tibetan antelope 
observed from vehicle-based transects through summer calving grounds 
north of Mount Muztagh Ulugh in Xinjiang Province. In 1999, he observed 
a density of 13.6 individuals/km\2\. The same transects revealed 5.9 
individuals/km\2\ in 2001 (Bleisch et al. unpublished). The decline is 
believed to have been caused by poaching, which reduced the density of 
females by about 50 percent in just 2 years.
    Service Response 7: We have added the areas mentioned by Dr. 
Bleisch to our list of protected Tibetan antelope populations and 
habitat in western China discussed under Factor A. The new population 
and threats information was also considered in the analysis of this 
    Issue 8: Dr. Bleisch disagreed with our assertion in the proposed 
rule that poaching has declined in some areas because there are not 
enough animals to warrant an organized poaching effort (68 FR 57649). 
He said that poaching has decreased even where Tibetan antelopes are 
still abundant and believes this is due to increased law enforcement 
within China and in other countries

[[Page 15623]]

coupled with a lower international demand for shahtoosh wool.
    Service Response 8: Although there may be evidence of less poaching 
at the summer calving grounds since the peak in 1999 when 909 carcasses 
were observed, we do not have enough information to determine whether 
or not poaching declined due to better law enforcement, lower demand, 
or our original assertion that there may not be enough animals to 
warrant an organized poaching effort. It may be due to any or all of 
these factors.
    Issue 9: Two commenters representing two non-governmental 
organizations commented that a specific threat to the Tibetan antelope 
in southwestern Qinghai Province is the construction of the Qinghai-
Tibet Railway, which began in 2001. The railway and the highway that 
runs parallel to it bisect the migratory route of the antelope in that 
region. The ideal construction season coincides with the peak 
migration. Population of the area with construction personnel and 
eventual further human settlement along the railway and highway may 
further destroy antelope habitat and may reduce the antelope population 
size, particularly if females cannot migrate to calving grounds.
    Service Response 9: The Service acknowledged this threat in the 
proposed rule.
    Issue 10: The same two commenters also provided the Service with 
recent examples of seizures of Tibetan antelope wool and shahtoosh 
shawls. Of particular concern is the continued poaching in Kekexili 
Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province at which most of the animals killed 
were pregnant females en route to the calving grounds. One commenter 
noted that John Sellar, Senior Enforcement Officer at the CITES 
Secretariat, told the Workshop on Enforcement of Tibetan Antelope that, 
despite international and national initiatives, ``* * * we seem to 
still be disappointingly far away from eliminating the poaching of the 
Chiru and the illegal trade in its parts (Sellar 2003).''
    Service Response 10: Although we addressed law enforcement issues 
in the proposed rule, we have included the assessment by John Sellar in 
our Factor D analysis of this rule.
    Issue 11: One commenter suggested that the Service use the term 
``tsod'' instead of ``chiru'' or ``Tibetan antelope'' because it is the 
term recognized by native Tibetan speakers.
    Service Response 11: While we try to be sensitive to local or 
native names, due to the pervasiveness of ``chiru'' and ``Tibetan 
antelope'' and the absence of ``tsod'' in the international literature, 
we will continue to use the terms ``chiru'' or ``Tibetan antelope.''
    Issue 12: This commenter also pointed out that the World 
Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the Tibetan antelope as endangered due 
to the sharp decrease in animal numbers and distribution as a result of 
commercial killing for the shahtoosh underfur (IUCN 2003).
    Service Response 12: This information has been added to the Factor 
B analysis.
    Issue 13: The same commenter provided additional information about 
the number of Tibetan antelope in Ladakh, India, and poaching and 
commercial killing in China, and reiterated the information provided by 
other commenters regarding the regulation of shahtoosh trade in Jammu 
and Kahmir, India. The commenter noted that listing the Tibetan 
antelope as endangered will encourage U.S. law enforcement personnel to 
more effectively control and prosecute shahtoosh-related crimes.
    Two other commenters representing non-governmental organizations 
also agreed with the proposal. One organization offered its assistance 
to the Service should we consider long-term captive breeding, 
reintroduction, and recovery programs for the Tibetan antelope.
    Service Response 13: We thank the commenters for their comments and 
offer of assistance.

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 semi-
arid 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 the Qaidam Basin of Qinghai Province 
(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 Tibetan antelope 
appears much as it was described a century ago by Bower (1894, cited in 
Schaller 1998), the distribution is now fragmented where previously it 
was continuous. Schaller (1998) determined that Tibetan antelope 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 area of about 490,000 km\2\ and a central area of 
about 115,000 km\2\. Distribution between the two areas was continuous 
until recent decades, and there may still be rare contact near the 
western end. However, current Tibetan antelope 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). 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 Tibetan antelope 
habitat in some areas, and could eventually lead to the destruction of 
some portion of the species' range through physical displacement, 
overgrazing, or both, 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

[[Page 15624]]

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 Tibetan antelope from the fenced 
grassland resources. Tibetan antelope need open range to survive 
(Miller and Schaller 1997). Although not studied specifically for this 
species, enclosure and conversion of grasslands may disrupt antelope 
habitat, posing a particular threat in the spring, when weakened 
Tibetan antelope are attempting to rebuild their energy reserves, and 
in the fall, as antelope are preparing for the harsh winter.
    The Tibetan Plateau has extensive gold deposits. Gold mining can 
have significant impacts on Tibetan antelope habitat. Mining degrades 
or destroys habitat through environmental contamination and 
disturbance, and through pollution of surface waters (U.S. Embassy, 
China [USEC] 1996).
    Oil exploration and some production have commenced within the 
Tibetan antelope'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 Tibetan antelope 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 Tibetan antelope 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 specifically 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 Tibetan antelope.
    Five contiguous protected areas have been established to protect 
Tibetan antelope populations and habitat in western China: Chang Tang 
Nature Reserve (approximately 334,000 km\2\ in the Tibet Autonomous 
Region), Kekexili (aka Kokoxili or Hoh Xil) National Reserve 
(approximately 45,000 km\2\ in Qinghai Province), Arjin Shan Reserve 
(45,000 km\2\ in Xinjiang Province), Snowlands Three Rivers Source 
National Nature Reserve (158,000 km\2\ in Qinghai Province), and the 
Mid-Kunlun Mountains Nature Reserve (size not provided, in Xinjiang 
Province). The five reserves protect most of the remaining habitat for 
Tibetan antelope. A sixth protected area, Xianza Reserve (40,000 km\2\ 
in the Tibet Autonomous Region), also includes some Tibetan antelope 
habitat. These reserves are only partially effective in protecting the 
Tibetan antelope and its habitat due to a combination of inadequate 
management, limited enforcement capacity, illegal mining operations, 
inconsistencies in governmental jurisdiction, lack of environmental 
safeguards, an influx of settlers, and domestic livestock grazing 
(Bleisch in litt. Jan. 2004; WTI-IFAW 2001). Whereas many of the 
protected areas in the Tibetan Plateau region encompass high-elevation 
rangelands, protected areas at lower grassland elevations are scarce 
(Miller 1997).
    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 Tibetan antelope 
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 in permanent settlements, can adversely affect Tibetan 
antelope habitat and be a detrimental disturbance factor.
    Therefore, based on the best available information, we find that 
the Tibetan antelope is in danger of extinction within the foreseeable 
future throughout all or a significant portion of its range from the 
present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its 
habitat or range.

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

    The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the Tibetan antelope as 
endangered due to the sharp decrease in animal numbers and distribution 
as a result of commercial hunting for the shahtoosh underfur (IUCN 
2003). 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) 
wrote, ``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-
50 years ago. Historical population estimates of 500,000 to 1,000,000 
appear to be reasonable based on the limited information available.
    Although data on the current population dynamics of Tibetan 
antelope 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. 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). A recent survey of Tibetan antelope in Yeniugou, 
Qinghai Province, China (Harris et al. 1999), based on observations 
made on foot or horseback as well as interviews with local and 
provincial officials, indicated that the population of Tibetan antelope 
declined from over 2,000 animals in 1991 to 2 animals observed in 1997. 
The authors hypothesized that the decline may be due to increased 
poaching or the antelope moving to alternative areas, or

[[Page 15625]]

both. The authors concluded that an entire subpopulation on the Tibetan 
Plateau can disappear in the short term.
    On the summer calving grounds north of Mount Muztagh Ulugh in 
Xinjiang Province, the population of Tibetan antelope declined from 
13.6 individuals/km\2\ to 5.9 individuals/km\2\ between 1999 and 2001 
(Bleisch et al. unpublished, Schaller 1998, Harris et al. 1999). The 
decline was attributed solely to poaching. If one assumes that the 
historical population of Tibetan antelope 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.
    The principal cause of the Tibetan antelope population decline has 
been poaching on a massive scale for the species' fur (wool) (Bleisch 
et al. unpublished), 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 Tibetan antelope fiber and shahtoosh products 
is the most serious threat to the continued existence of the Tibetan 
antelope. Although overall mortality rates are not known, mortality due 
to poaching was estimated to be as high as 20,000 individuals per year 
in China (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 Tibetan antelope is 70,000 individuals and that the 
population is currently declining at a rate of 1,000 to 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, 
government officials, military personnel, and other outsiders had 
greater access to shoot wildlife. Most Tibetan antelope poaching takes 
place in the Arjin Shan, Chang Tang, and Kekexili Nature Reserves by a 
variety of people, including local herders, residents, military 
personnel, gold miners, truck drivers, and others (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 are naturally shed fibers 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 underfur 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 Tibetan antelope were killed for their wool (Ginsberg et 
al. 1999). One Tibetan antelope carcass yields about 125 to 150 grams 
(g) of fiber. In the winter of 1992, an estimated 2,000 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 Tibetan antelope. In October 1998, 
14 poachers in the Tibet Autonomous Region were convicted of 
collectively killing 500 Tibetan antelope 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 Tibetan antelope hides in April 
and May 1999 (Liu 1999, cited in Ginsberg et al. 1999). The WTI-IFAW 
(2001) report lists 77 known seizures of Tibetan antelope 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 (WTI-IFAW 2001) and 80 shahtoosh shawls in New Delhi in March 
2002 (Wildlife Protection Society of India [WPSI] News 2002). In Dubai, 
100 shawls were seized from Kashmiri traders (Bindra 2004). A 
consignment of 211 kg of raw shahtoosh was seized by wildlife officials 
in New 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 Tibetan 
antelope. In June 2005, Swiss customs confiscated 537 shahtoosh shawls, 
the largest seizure of shahtoosh in Europe (IFAW 2005). Tibetan 
antelope 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.
    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 Tibetan antelope population of the reserve 
(Bleisch 1999).
    Several areas where calving females formerly congregated are now 
empty of Tibetan antelope during the calving season (Bleisch 1999). In 
2002, researchers 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 (96.6 kilometer) 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 
    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 Tibetan antelope habitat and lead to poaching.
    Therefore, based on the best available information, we find that 
the Tibetan antelope is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range from overutilization for

[[Page 15626]]

commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes.

C. Disease or Predation

    Schaller (1998) has 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 Tibetan 
antelope, particularly on the calving grounds. At the present time, 
neither disease nor predation is considered to significantly 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. Therefore, based on the best available information, we find 
that the Tibetan antelope does not appear to be in danger of extinction 
within the foreseeable future from disease or predation.

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 
constitute 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.
    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 CITES as well as of 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-
20 families (Wright and Kumar 1997). There are about 100-120 family-run 
manufacturing operations that employ more than 20,000 people who 
prepare, weave, and finish the raw shahtoosh into scarves and shawls 
(WTI-IFAW 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. The CITES Secretariat prepared a 
document for the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties in which 
the Parties were asked to support new language in Resolution Conf. 11.8 
(Rev. CoP12) ``* * * that the State of Jammu and Kashmir in India halts 
the processing of such wool and the manufacture of shahtoosh products 
(CITES Secretariat 2004).'' However, the Parties rejected the proposed 
    The Tibetan antelope is protected at a national level by China, 
Nepal, and India. In China, the Tibetan antelope 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 
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 April 2000 which was revised at the 13th Meeting of the Conference 
of the Parties to CITES in October 2004 (Resolution Conf. 11.8 [Rev. 
COP13], http://www.cites.org/eng/res/11/11-08R13.shtml). China re-

iterated its commitment to Tibetan antelope conservation at the 12th 
Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in November 2002 
(Decision 12.40, http://www.cites.org/eng/dec/valid12/12-40.shtml).

    There has been increased coordination of anti-poaching activities 
in Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Tibet, including a workshop in Xinjiang, 
China, in 2002. Participants included national and local agencies from 
China and the Tibet Autonomous Region. The workshop resulted in a 
resolution calling for increased habitat protection, in situ 
conservation of the Tibetan antelope, and international collaboration 
to eliminate illegal trade. In addition, the CITES Management Authority 
of China and the CITES Secretariat convened the Workshop on Enforcement 
of Tibetan Antelope in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in August 2003. 
The workshop covered international and national wildlife law 
enforcement, intelligence techniques, and collaboration with other 
international law enforcement agencies as well as national agencies. 
Despite these efforts, John Sellar, Senior Enforcement Officer, CITES 
Secretariat, told the participants that international and national 
initiatives have done little to stop the poaching of the Tibetan 
antelope and the illegal trade in its parts (Sellar 2003).
    In Nepal, the Tibetan antelope is listed as an endangered species 
under Schedule I of Nepal's National Parks and Wildlife Conservation 
Act (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 53rd Meeting 
of the CITES Standing Committee (SC) in June 2005 (SC53 Doc 31, http://www.cites.org/eng/com/SC/53/E53-31.pdf

    In India, the Tibetan antelope 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 (J&K Act), which is independent of 
national law. Prior to June 2002, the Tibetan antelope was listed in 
Schedule II of the J&K Act which permitted the manufacture of and trade 
in shahtoosh under certain conditions. Under Schedule II, shahtoosh 
dealers had to be licensed and were required to report to the 
government any import of Schedule II animal products (Ginsberg et al. 
1999). The J&K Act was amended in June 2002 to elevate the species from 
Schedule II to Schedule I, which provides complete protection to the 
    Despite the fact that no shahtoosh dealers had ever been licensed 
(Government of India 1999), the production and sale of shahtoosh shawls 
and other products occurred under Schedule II and continue to occur

[[Page 15627]]

under Schedule I in Jammu and Kashmir. In response, the Wildlife Trust 
of India (WTI) has filed a case in the Supreme Court of India against 
the State of Jammu and Kashmir to force the implementation of the 
amended wildlife law. So culturally entrenched is shahtoosh shawl 
manufacturing in Jammu and Kashmir that a recent WTI-IFAW census of 
shahtoosh workers indicated that 14,293 individuals were directly 
involved in shahtoosh production (Gopinath et al. 2003). This number 
appears to be lower than expected and declining due to legal 
restrictions and alternative employment for pashmina production 
(cashmere from the domestic mountain goat Capra hircus). According to 
Dr. Ashok Kumar, Senior Advisor and Trustee, WTI, a study conducted by 
WTI in partnership with IFAW in December 2003 found shahtoosh shawls 
available illegally to tourists in New Delhi and other towns in India 
(A. Kumar, WTI, in litt. January 5, 2004). From his study of the 
shahtoosh trade since 1992, Dr. Kumar observed that methods of 
concealment and porous borders between Tibet, India, and Nepal have 
made enforcement of Tibetan antelope protection laws difficult.
    Sale of shahtoosh shawls occurs elsewhere in India as well, 
although sale is prohibited by national law. Despite the fact that 
CITES and Indian 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, they have been unable to end the 
production of shahtoosh products.
    In the United States, the Appendix-I listing of the Tibetan 
antelope has not completely prevented the illegal import and sale of 
shahtoosh products. Besides CITES, the United States has an additional 
domestic measure that regulates the trade of this species. The Lacey 
Act (16 U.S.C. 3371 et seq.) makes it unlawful to import, export, 
transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase mammals or their products 
that were taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of State, 
Federal, or foreign laws or regulations.
    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 Endangered Species Act (which is 
the U.S. CITES implementing legislation) 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 currently 
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 as well as 
delivery, receipt, transport, or shipment in interstate or foreign 
commerce in the course of a commercial activity. This would give U.S. 
prosecutors additional means of fighting shahtoosh smuggling and the 
illegal market within the United States. In addition, penalties can be 
greater for species that are listed under both CITES and the Endangered 
Species Act.
    Therefore, based on the best available information, we find that 
the Tibetan antelope is in danger of extinction throughout all or a 
significant portion of its range from inadequate existing regulatory 

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 
year. Although, at the present time, inclement weather does not 
significantly threaten or endanger the species in any portion of its 
range, it may become more significant as populations decline and become 
increasingly fragmented because of other mortality factors such as 
poaching. Therefore, based on the best available information, we find 
that the Tibetan antelope does not appear to be in danger of extinction 
within the foreseeable future from other natural or manmade factors.


    In developing this rule, we have carefully assessed the best 
scientific and commercial information available regarding the threats 
facing this species. This information indicates that the total 
population of Tibetan antelope has declined significantly over the past 
three decades. This decline has resulted primarily from overutilization 
for commercial purposes and 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. Because 
these threats place the species in danger of extinction throughout all 
or a significant portion of its range (in accordance with the 
definition of ``endangered species'' in section 3(6) of the Act), we 
have determined that the Tibetan antelope is endangered throughout its 
range, pursuant to the Act. This action will result in the 
classification of this species as endangered, throughout its entire 

Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the Act include recognition of conservation status, 
requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain 
practices. Recognition through listing encourages and results in 
conservation actions by Federal, State, and private agencies and 
groups, and individuals. The protection required of Federal agencies 
and the prohibitions against take and harm are discussed, in part, 
    Section 7(a) of the Act, as amended, and as implemented by 
regulations at 50 CFR part 402, requires Federal agencies to evaluate 
their actions that are to be conducted within the United States or upon 
the high seas, with respect to any species that is proposed to be 
listed or is listed as endangered or threatened and with respect to its 
proposed or designated critical habitat, if any is being designated. 
Because the Tibetan antelope is not native to the United States, no 
critical habitat is being designated with this rule.
    Section 8(a) of the Act authorizes the provision of limited 
financial assistance for the development and management of programs 
that the Secretary of the Interior determines to be necessary or useful 
for the conservation of endangered species in foreign countries. 
Sections 8(b) and 8(c) of the Act authorize the Secretary to encourage 
conservation programs for foreign endangered species, and to provide 
assistance for such programs, in the form of personnel and the training 
of personnel.
    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of 
general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to all endangered 
wildlife. As such, these prohibitions are applicable to the Tibetan 
antelope. These prohibitions, pursuant to 50 CFR 17.21, in part, make 
it illegal for any person subject to the

[[Page 15628]]

jurisdiction of the United States to ``take'' (includes harass, harm, 
pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or to attempt any of 
these) within the United States or upon the high seas; import or 
export; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or 
foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer 
for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any endangered wildlife 
species. It also is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, 
transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken in violation 
of the Act. Certain exceptions apply to agents of the Service and State 
conservation agencies.
    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. With regard 
to endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following 
purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or 
survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with 
otherwise lawful activities.

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 Act. A notice 
outlining our reasons for this determination was published in the 
Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    The Office of Management and Budget approved the information 
collection in part 17 and assigned OMB Control numbers 1018-0093 and 
1018-0094. This final rule does not impose new reporting or 
recordkeeping requirements on State or local governments, individuals, 
businesses, or organizations. We cannot conduct or sponsor and you are 
not required to respond to a collection of information unless it 
displays a currently valid OMB control number.

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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 notice is Michael Kreger, Ph.D., 
Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see 
ADDRESSES section; telephone 703-358-1708).

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

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

Regulation Promulgation

Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of 
the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:


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. Amend Sec.  17.11(h) 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................  Panthalops hodgsonii  China, India, Nepal  Entire.............  E               ...........           NA

                                                                      * * * * * * *

    Dated: March 23, 2006.
Marshall P. Jones, Jr.,
Deputy Director, Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 06-3034 Filed 3-28-06; 8:45 am]