From: Reuters
Published February 6, 2008 07:30 AM

Kashmir Pashmina goats face death in icy Himalayas

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Thousands of goats that provide fine wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls are facing death because of heavy snow in India's mountainous Ladakh region, officials said on Wednesday.

Nearly 100,000 Pashmina 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 could not be provided immediately," said Tsering Dorjay, a government official 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 (minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit).

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

"We have requested the army to airdrop 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 they are exported worldwide.

(Reporting by Sheikh Mushtaq; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)

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