An estimated $12.95 million worth of wild life animal skins were burned during the 2006 Tibetan New Year festival. Tibetans use animal skin for the decoration of traditional dress.
As a result, millions of dollars worth of animal furs and skins were destroyed as a pledge of sorts. Some say Tibetans in Tibet are advocating a clean environment and loving animals as per the Buddhist way of life.
From an environmental point of view, religion has been a positive and successful force influencing the relationship of Tibetans with their environment. But from other perspectives, religion can be seen as promoting dogmatic behavior with little long-term understanding. The majority of Tibetans have never learned about the environment, nor the ecological science and doctrine behind it. Tibetan Ecology Foundation wants to more deeply explain environmental science to Tibetans and rest of the world by publishing Wild Tibet: Tibetan Mammals and the Landscape of the Tibetan Plateau.
The intention of this book is to provide scientific information to the people, with the hope that people will truly recognize and understand the Buddha’s words, “Everything is interdependent.” Our habitats, diets, behavior, physical work, animal and human populations are all dependent upon each other. Therefore, we hope the book will educate the people of the Tibetan Plateau not only about the connection between animals and the land, but also about the role we play in our environment, as creative, mindful human beings.
TEF recognizes the need for both local awareness and global awareness of this particular bio-region. Today there are about 300 pharmaceutical companies collecting musk from Tibetan musk deer. The musk is used as medicine to fight human diseases in many parts of China. In France, musk is used to manufacture perfume, a luxury item. “Shahtoosh”, which means Pleasure of Kings in the Persian language, is a shawl made of Tibetan Antelope wool. A single shahtoosh shawl can cost as much as US$16,000 on the European market (China.org.cn). Both these animals are listed as endangered species. Yet musk deer and antelope are just two species that face poaching on the plateau. The Tibetan Plateau is an illegal hunting zone. However, because of the benefit of large pharmaceutical companies, and the pleasure and luxury in the west, hunting continues on the Plateau. Therefore, TEF will promote awareness of the ecological value of these animals to local and to global audiences.