Saturday, October 01, 2005


Devoid of concern or sympathy.

Tibetan Antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii)

The Tibetan antelope or "chiru," is native to the Tibetan Plateau in China, and small areas of northern India and western Nepal.

Shahtoosh (roughly translated from Persian as "king of wools") is the undercoat of the Tibetan antelope and is considered the world's finest and warmest wool, with a mean fiber diameter if 9-12 microns -- one-fifth the thickness of a human hair. The wool can only be collected by killing the chiru and plucking the pelts. Poachers are either Tibetan nomads or Chinese migrants who use jeeps and trucks to reach remote chiru habitat, often surrounding herds at night and blinding animals with vehicle lights, then gunning them down. One chiru yields approximately 120-150 gm of shahtoosh, necessitating the death of at least three Tibetan antelope to make a one- by two-meter ladies' shawl and up to five antelope for a two- by three-meter men's shawl. As many as 20,000 chiru are poached annually, based on estimates by China's State Forestry Administration.

This one (held by a conservation scientist, NOT a poacher or vendor) is worth around $7,000. He showed me a sack of 50 shawls, as well as hundreds of leopard and tiger skins. Please don't buy this stuff.