Saturday, February 09, 2008

Pashmina goats face death in icy Himalayas

Pashmina Goats
Thousands of goats that provide fine wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls are facing death because of heavy snow in the mountainous Ladakh region, officials said on Wednesday.

These goats have been affected by a shortage of food because winter pastures near the Chinese border have been covered after unexpected heavy snowfall.

"Over 90,000 goats are facing shortage of food and many of them will die if fodder cannot be provided immediately," said a government official, Tsering Dorjay, in Ladakh.

Pashmina goats, which grow a thick warm fleece, survive on grass in Ladakh where temperatures plunge to as low as minus 20 degrees celsius.

Local newspapers reported stocks of winter fodder provided by the government had already been exhausted.

"We have requested the army to air-drop fodder into areas which are cut off due to unexpected heavy snowfall," Dorjay said.

After a ban on shahtoosh, the world's finest wool derived from the hair of an endangered Tibetan antelope, shawls made from Pashmina wool are considered some of the world's finest and are exported worldwide.

Three main pastures in Chumur, Kharnak and Sumoriri areas on the Indo-China border are facing the crisis. These areas fall in two blocks of Durduk and Nyoma in Leh district. But Nyoma is the worst affected. Lives of the Changpa nomads who raise these goats and animals and live in tents throughout the year are also not out of danger.

“We have identified three places where Indian Air Force MI-17 helicopters would be air-dropping the fodder on Saturday when the weather would be slighter better,” said Mr Dorjey, adding these areas as Kharnak (southwest of Nyoma), Tejazong (southeast of Leh) and Kurzok near Tsomorari Lake.
The entire area spread over 22,000 square km where these goats go for their winter pastures is cut off from rest of the world. Of the 150,000 Pashmina goats affected by the shortage of food, over 100,000 goats were at risk of death if fodder could not be provided immediately. The pregnant goats have been having miscarriages and the young ones, up to one-year-old, have been dying because of the cold.
The problem facing the Pashmina goats was brought to the authorities’ attention by nomads who had travelled by foot to a district office.
Pashmina Goat T-shirt
“The Hill Council is working day and night to face the situation. All the resources have been mobilised by the Council and local transport societies are being used to transport fodder to those areas which are open. Ten trucks are being used everyday for relief operations. Four teams have also been made to assess the situation,” informed Mr Dorjey.

We are honoring these goats with out abstract Pashmina Goat T-shirts and Goat Gifts and sending a percentage of the proceeds for the aid of these goats.
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