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Ke Ke Xi Li (Hoh Xil)
2008-06-03 18:33:44     CRIENGLISH.com

The team also played the role of a mobile protection station. We were quite aware that the longer we stayed in Hoh Xil, the more frightened the poachers would be.

May 30th, windy and a heavy snowfall at night. Temperature: minus 10 degrees centigrade. Zhaba, my fellow patrolman, was feeling uncomfortable before we started off. But he hid the fact and joined us anyway, secretly taking an intravenous drip in his backpack. On the second day of camping, he felt very ill, so he stayed in the truck and used the intravenous drip. Zhaxi discovered the situation and kindly gave Zhaba a hand. Possibly because of the high altitude, the fluid wouldn't drip once the needle was in place. Zhaxi pulled the needle out and tried again. This time, it began to drip, but very slowly. Zhaba was so tired that he fell asleep while he was on the drip. Zhaxi looked after him all the way.

An Encounter with Poachers
A raging snowstorm hit again the night of May 31st. The maximum depth of the snow was 40 centimeters. Fearing that the snow would block the way leading out of the mountain, we decided to leave in the afternoon of June 1st. Unexpectedly, this decision resulted in an encounter with poachers.

"There's a car in front of us, to the left!" shouted team leader Wang Zhoutai as we were bumping along a river valley at an elevation of 4,500 meters. Through the falling snowflakes, we saw a car several dozen meters ahead, appearing and disappearing at intervals. At this moment, associate team leader Cheng Lin loaded his gun, and the driver sped up. In the instant that it took to replace the film in my camera, our truck had caught up with the car and stopped it. I bet the poachers never expected to meet us on such a bad day. We ordered them to get out of the car so we could inspect it.

In addition to the bullets in the car, we found two guns they had dropped in a hurry on the riverbank-a refit semiautomatic rifle and a homemade double-barreled hunting rifle. They had also left behind hundreds of strong antipersonnel case shots, thousands of spare ignition cartridges, and a large amount of gunpowder and bullets. If they had succeeded, hundreds or even thousands of pregnant female Tibetan antelopes would have been killed. And if they had taken action first, the outcome would have been even worse. Imagining we could have been on the verge of death, we shivered with cold sweat.

Our patrol team of seven escorted the four poachers to a detention house in Golmud. We drove day after night without relaxing vigilance. Even though they were wearing handcuffs, the poachers were still very vicious and insidious. I held a gun to guard one of the poachers, keeping myself awake for a full 30 hours.

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