These shocking photos show heaps of rubbish have accumulated on the Tibetan Plateau, the so-called “roof of the world”, in what experts say is a major environmental threat.
The snaps taken in the Hoh Xil region in China’s north-western Qinghai Province show the recently discovered rubbish patch measuring 200 by 20 metres (656 by 66 ft).
The photos show how the area normally famed for its natural beauty is strewn with cans, plastic containers, discarded clothing and even dead animals including sheep and yaks.
Even more shocking is the fact that the dump was found within the borders of the Sanjiangyuan National Park, which is supposed to be a protected area.
According to experts, the dump poses a major threat to the environment, as reported in local newspaper The Economic Observer on Sunday 20th June.
Park officials have since said they will investigate the rubbish, which may have either accumulated spontaneously or been gathered by personnel for processing.
The existence of the dump became known thanks to tourists who visited the area in May and June and who took photographic evidence of the scene.
Environmental researcher Li Junsheng of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences has called for a “leak-proof mat” to be placed under the accumulation.
Around 200 people live close to the rubbish, which would take a long time to degrade if simply left, given the low temperatures in the region.
The dump also poses a threat to native species such as the near-threatened Tibetan antelope.
It is believed that at least part of the rubbish was discarded by truckers traversing the Qinghai-Tibet Highway.
Some patches have already been cleared from the scene by teams of volunteers.
The Sanjiangyuan National Park is home to the source of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers, which have been described as the “lifeblood of China”.