Best time to travel to Tibet

Tibetan Antelope (Chiru)

The best time to see Tibetan antelopes is during their migrations

Best time: November–December | late June-mid-July

Tibetan Antelope (Chiru)

Tibetan antelope, also known as chiru, is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau. Tibetan antelopes prefer open alpine flat terrain and cold steppe at an altitude between 3,250 and 5,500 m.

Their exceptionally fine underfur helps antelopes to survive in the harsh climate of Tibet. Unfortunately, this fur, called shahtoosh, is also the main reason they are killed. Due to the illegal hunting, their number is decreasing fast, and these animals have become endangered in recent years. Today their quantity is around 75,000 individuals. A large number of Tibetan antelopes can be found within the Chang Tang Nature Reserve in northern Tibet.

Antelopes have two migration seasons. The first one that occurs in winter is the mating season. Male and female herds usually live separately, but during the rut, they run at high speeds and with all their strength to meet each other on the mating ground near the Hoh Xil’s Wudaoliang protection station. Antelopes can operate at speeds up to 100 km/hour. This is also the only time when males gather any conflicts.

Another spectacular migration occurs in early July. Tens of thousands of female antelopes move to their lambing grounds at high elevations at Lake Zhuonai. The whole process usually lasts for about 10 days, during which thousands of antelopes give birth to their young, sometimes even simultaneously. This one is called one of the three most spectacular migrations in the world.

Practical info

What is the best time to see Tibetan antelopes in Tibet?

Observing Tibetan antelopes in Tibet is most favorable during their migration seasons that happen twice a year. The critters migrate in early July when thousands of females migrate to Lake Zhuonai where they give birth, and during the mating season, late June to mid-July, when male and female antelopes run to meet each other and mate on the mating grounds near Hoh Xil’s Wudaoliang protection station. Show more

Where is the Chang Tang Nature Reserve located, and how many antelopes can usually be found there?

The Chang Tang Nature Reserve is located in northern Tibet, covering a vast 334,000 square kilometers landmass. It houses thousands of livestock, wild yak, black-necked crane, and over half of the population of tens of thousands of Tibetan antelopes in Tibet. During winter, a significant number of these antelopes can be found in the flat terrain and steppe regions of the reserve. Show more

What are Tibetan antelopes hunted for, and how has this affected their population in recent years?

Tibetan antelopes are highly hunted and poached for their underfur, shahtoosh, prized for making shawls and other textiles but illegal in trade. The illegal trade has led to a drastic decrease in Tibetan antelopes' population, who are now classified as endangered species. In recent years, there have only been 75,000 antelopes, a sharp decline from 1 million in the past. To prevent further harm, the Chinese government has taken a few measures, but more needs to be done to protect the Tibetan antelopes completely. Show more

When do Tibetan antelopes have their mating season, and what happens during this time?

From late June to mid-July, during winter, the Tibetan antelopes' mating season happens when both male and female herds live apart. Male and female antelopes gather at the mating ground near Hoh Xil’s Wudaoliang protection station during this season, where males become aggressive towards each other and mate with females, who run and gather. They usually engage in mating rituals, with males battling if necessary. Show more

When do the female Tibetan antelopes have their migration to their lambing grounds, and where are these located?

Female Tibetan antelopes migrate to their lambing grounds at Lake Zhuonai during early July. This migration is considered a magnificent event where females move to high elevations where thousands of them give birth around the same time. The lambing grounds are located in the Tibetan plateau near the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu. It's one of the most magnificent migrations globally and creates a spectacle out in the field. Show more

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