This case study assesses the environmental and social processes that were set into train in the protection of the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. Between 1980s and 1990s, Tibetan antelope had become endangered because of massive illegal poaching, which prompted the establishing of this reserve base. The case study uses various documentations to explore how government, NGOs and Tibetan indigenous people participate in the conservation and management of Tibetan antelope and how they negotiate and compromise to optimize their own benefits. At the same time, different stakeholders and their relationships with the National Nature Reserve land are discussed in this case. A unique and successful law called regional ethnic autonomy for solving issues between indigenous people and government in Hoh Xil is mentioned. Considering the interests of minor groups, we use successful management case in West Bengal for reference and recommend the setting of an agreement like Joint Forest Management in India in Hoh Xil.

Basic information of the reserve

Geographical location

Ecological environment conditions

Endangered species- Tibetan antelope

Tibetan antelope in Hoh Xil

Tibetan antelope poaching

Early Stage (1995-2016)

Important Events

Tenure arrangements

According to the provisions of The Measures for The Administration of Land in Nature Reserves (promulgated by the State Administration of Land and the Former State Environmental Protection Bureau in 1995), land within nature reserves shall be owned by the state or the community in accordance with the law[6]. Users of state-owned land and owners of collective land in natural protection areas shall, in accordance with the state laws and regulations on the administration of land, apply to the land administrative departments of the local people's governments at or above the county level for land registration and obtain land certificates[6]. The ownership and use right of land determined shall not be altered because of the delimitation of nature reserves[6].

Administrative Arrangements

Main stakeholders

Conflicts: construction of Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Highway


Late Phase (2016-Now)

Important events

Tenure arrangements

Natural resources ownership of Sanjiangyuan national park is directly exercised by the central government[12]. During the period of pilot, the government of Qinghai province is entrusted to act on behalf of the government. Sanjiangyuan national park authority dispatches agencies for QingHai provincial government to take Qinghai Sanjiangyuan national nature reserve management duties within the scope of all kinds of state-owned natural resources assets owners[12].

Administrative arrangements

The conservation and management of the property will be guided by the Qinghai Hoh Xil Property Management Plan[2]. The property benefits from an integrated management agency that coordinates efforts from central, provincial, municipal, and local authorities[2]. Sufficient staff with multiple background and relevant experience will be provided to guarantee the conservation and management of the property[2]. The management scheme has been changed after the release of overall plan of Sanjiangyuan National Park.

Main Stakeholders

Government ('interested' stakeholder)

Plan and Management

According to the overall plan, the government implements a zoning management in Sanjiangyuan national park, including primary zoning and secondary zoning:

In order to meet the control requirements and the conservation objectives of the natural heritage sites, the major area in Hoh Xil World Natural Heritage Site is classified into the core conservation area to implement stricter protection[12].

Specific management and control measures for core conservation area:

Relevant regulations

The local herders ('affected' stakeholder)

The issues with wildlife

Livestock and wild animals compete for forage resources, which threatens the original ecological environment of heritage sites and the normal propagation of wild animals[14]. On the one hand, excessive grazing causes the reduction and contraction of the habitat mass and further leads to the decrease of the distribution area of wild animals[14]. On the other hand, widespread herdsmen and livestock are prone to conflict with wild animals and hybridization between domestic animals and wild animals leads to genetic pollution, which have a negative impact on heritage value[14].


Considering the protection of biodiversity in heritage sites, the amount and range of pastoralists' grazing will be limited to some extent[14]. In order to enhance participation, the Qinghai Hoh Xil Property Management Plan recognizes and actively involves local Tibetan herders living in the property and buffer zone in conservation, management, and educational efforts. Therefore, this series of measures is proposed to further integrate the future development of herdsmen into regional sustainable development through tourism participation, government compensation and decrease of livestock, and gradually reduce the impact of production from herdsmen on heritage sites[12].

The involvement of NGOs ('interested' stakeholder)

IUCN considers that it is imperative that State Party should address questions of rights, access and traditional use rigorously and carefully, in full consultation, and the World Heritage nomination must not be used to justify any deprivation of traditional land use rights of the concerned communities[15].

IUCN further suggests that the management plan should strengthen specific sections on traditional use, and that the revision of the plan involves an enhanced level of consultation and the direct involvement of representatives of the traditional herding community in governance and decision-taking[15].  


The protection of the Tibetan antelope in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve is successful and instructive, which can provide reference for other projects of protecting wildlife. Firstly, it has basically solved the problem of serious poaching of the Tibetan antelope and protected the fragile ecological environment to give Tibetan antelope as well as other endemic species a favorable habitat. Now around 60,000 Tibetan antelopes live in the area of the Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, and they are able to wander freely around the region, without fear of being killed[16]. During the process of the protection, the conflicts among different affected and interested stakeholders were well reconciled and addressed. Furthermore, in 2017, Hoh Xil in Qinghai Province was approved for inclusion in the world heritage list, becoming China's 51st world heritage site, which is a greater accomplishment on the basis of original objectives. Under the support of governments, communities, NGOs, and research institutions, Hoh Xil will achieve a sustainable development goal for a long time.

One conflict was among the economic development of Hoh Xil and life security of Tibetan Antelope. Then local government, NGOs, transportation agency negotiated for a long time and decided to construct railway with animal corridors. The result was satisfactory. All of these stakeholders derived benefits from this and the life security of Tibetan Antelope was guaranteed. The other conflict is that those herdsmen who abandon grasslands and move into towns cannot afford the high price food. To relieve this conflict, the central government of China can distribute subsidy to them.


The practice of regional ethnic autonomy in Hoh Xil is a unique management way. It has played an enormous role in developing socialist ethnic relations featuring equality, solidarity and mutual assistance and in consolidating national unity. The organs of self-government of Hoh Xil have the right to adopt special policies and flexible measures on the basis of the local conditions and the principle that the constitution and laws are not violated. Tibetan persons' rights have not been deprived such as the rights of using their language. Textbooks and lectures can use minority language, but the use of mandarin and standardized Chinese characters is required at the same time[17].

Although the self- government in Hoh Xil ensures the bundle of rights of Tibetan persons, some local policies sometimes will neglect minority people's interests. The management way of Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve is complicated since it must consider the interests of different stakeholders such as NGOs, government and Tibetan indigenous, and find trade-offs. We hope that in the process of implementing the management plan, the consequence will satisfy every stakeholder.


Considering the current situation in Hoh Xil, we conceive that the policy in West Bengal can be applied to Hoh Xil. An agreement like Joint Forest Management whose role is to manage collaboration between foresters and local government can be set in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve. On the one hand, it gives Tibetan dignity and recognition of citizens. What is more, with the development of Hoh Xil under the protection of the environment, the living quality of Tibetan will improve and they will get long term benefits, especially their future generations. On the other hand, as an intermediary agreement, it helps balance the issues between government and Tibetan and relieve conflicts.


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  3. Xia Li Wu Xiang, Lin Zengchao Yonghua Yu (2014). "Conservation and Monitoring of Tibetan Antelopes in Hoh Xil Nature Reserve" (PDF).  line feed character in |title= at position 49 (help)
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  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Confirmation of land ownership management in nature reserves (determination of boundary rights)". Sohu. August 21, 2018. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Regulations of the People's Republic of China on nature reserves". Baidu Baike. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Zhang Cheng Zou, Wei Yusi Jiawen (August 24, 2017). "The 25 years of Hoh Xil patrol: chasing thieves, trapped cars, altitude sickness and isolated guardians". The Paper. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Xia Zhang Wu Wu Zhu Zhu Lai Li, Lin Qian Yongjie Yonghua Lei Long Ge Yongbo (2010). "L060107 Monitoring and Conservation of Tibetan Antelopes and Other Mid-large Sized Mammals Along Qinghai-Tibet Railway and Highway" (PDF). 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve". Baidu Baike. 2019. 
  11. "Sanjiangyuan National Park". Baidu Baike. 2019. 
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 12.11 12.12 "Sanjiangyuan National Park overall plan" (PDF). China National Development and Reform Commission. 2018. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 "Regulations on the protection of Hoh Xil Natural Heritage in Qinghai Province". Qinghai Forestry and Grassland Bureau. 2016. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Yu Li Deng Wen, Han Ze Wugong Cheng (2017). "Study and practice on the conservation and management planning of the world natural heritage in Hoh Xil, Qinghai". Research on Heritages and Preservation. Vol.2 No.7 Dec. 2017. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "Advisory body evaluation (IUCN): Qinghai Hoh Xil (China) – Id N° 1540". IUCN. 2017. 
  16. "Why Was Hoh Xil Able to Successfully Gain World Cultural Heritage Status?". China Tibetan Train Tours. August 22, 2018. 
  17. "Law of the People's Republic of China on regional ethnic autonomy". The Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China. July 29, 2005. 

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