Tue, 05 Mar 2013 18:30:30 GMT | By AFP

Starving goats to hit Indian pashmina production

Around 175,000 goats are at risk of perishing as their fodder is buried under about three feet of snow after one of the biggest snowfall in nearly fifty years

Starving goats to hit Indian pashmina production (© Reuters)

Srinagar: Heavy snow has killed nearly 25,000 pashmina goats in the Indian Himalayas, threatening supplies of silky cashmere wool used to make high-end scarves, an official said on Tuesday.

Thousands of nomads rear the goats in the inhospitable terrain of India's northwestern region of Ladakh, a high-altitude desert renowned for its dramatic landscape of towering mountains and arid plains.

Some 50 tonnes of raw pashmina wool, known to be some of the best in the world, is produced there each year and sent to neighbouring Kashmir where it is processed and woven into scarves and shawls which sell for up to 800 dollars apiece.

This year, an estimated 25,000 goats have starved to death in the Changthang region because their fodder is buried under unusually heavy snow, said Rigzin Spalbar, who heads the Ladakh Hill Development Council, the autonomous governing body of the region.

"All the land access routes are blocked with snow and a week earlier we requested the government to airdrop fodder and supplements for the surviving goats," Spalbar told AFP by phone.

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