Gazelles rush Mongolia border to escape wildfire

Gazelles rush Mongolia border to escape wildfire

22 June 2011

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Mongolia — Thousands of wild Mongolian gazelles broke through the China-Mongolia border on Monday while escaping a prairie fire on the Mongolian side, China’s border control authorities said Tuesday.

About 2,000 gazelles, mostly pregnant females, broke through the border as they escaped a spreading wildfire in Mongolia, the authorities said.

The prairie fire initially occurred in eastern Mongolia, which borders East Ujimqin Banner (County) in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The fire then spread across the Sino-Mongolian border.

Bai Yinshan, deputy head of a local police station under the Xilingol League’s border detachment, said the gazelles dashed through barbed wire barricades, incurring minor injuries on the way.

According to local police tasked with fighting the wildfire, clusters of gazelles were seen wandering along the border. Several male gazelles charged the fences first, making holes for their pregnant companions.

About 30 gazelles became stuck in the fence and were consumed by the spreading wildfire.

A large number of Mongolian gazelles graze near the Sino-Mongolian border. They enter China in mid- to late July every year, foraging for food.

According to local police, more gazelles are expected to run for the border, as the wildfire has destroyed the meadows that they normally use for food.

The wildfire was extinguished after rain fell near the border on Tuesday.

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