A promotion for the world’s best-selling beer encroaches on the protected breeding ground of the Tibetan antelope, according to Chinese conservationists who are campaigning against the commercial exploitation of one of the planet’s most unique nature reserves.
Snow Beer is offering its customers an expedition to Kekexili, a remote region high on the Tibetan Plateau that is supposed to be off-limits to everyone except scientists with permission from the national government.
Kekexili – also known as Hoh Xil – is one of the least populated areas on earth. It has been a national reserve since 1995, but for many years after it was the site of a murderous conflict between poachers and the Wild Yak Brigade, a patrol of vigilantes committed to protecting endangered species.
Chief among them was the chiru, or Tibetan antelope, which was almost hunted to extinction due to the demand of wealthy foreign consumers for its fine shahtoosh wool. A gritty 2004 film about their plight and the killing of the brigade’s leader prompted the government to strengthen protection. Chiru numbers have since started to recover and the animal was made a mascot for the Beijing Olympics.
Conservationists say the brewery’s proposed tour would be a setback.
“This is China’s most precious nature reserve. There are explicit prohibitions against crossings,” said Wu Zhu, the conservationist heading the campaign against the promotion tour.