Chiru, Tibetan Antelope
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The true cost of luxury
However, the antelope must be killed for the fur to be collected, and it takes around 4 chiru to make a single shawl.
Shahtoosh shawls were traditionally given as wedding gifts in India. Despite strict controls on trade of shahtoosh products and CITES listing, there is still demand for these luxury items. Within India, shawls are worth $1,000-$5,000, internationally the price can reach as high as $20,000.
The Tibetan antelope has a fine, soft and dense woolly coat which varies from grey, beige to reddish-brown. The underparts are creamy white in colour.
The male chiru has curved back horns up to 70cm in length.
Shoulder height: 80 - 100 cm
Length: 120 - 130 cm
Weight: 35 - 40kg (males) and 25 - 30kg (females)
Habitat and ecology
Chiru are nomadic and migratory, sometimes covering huge distances between summer and winter ranges. Male and female herds are usually separate except during mating.
Chiru usually give birth to a single offspring. Females congregate at traditional birthing grounds.
Grasses, herbs and shrubs.
Population and Distribution
The population is estimated to have declined by more than 50% during the last 20 years of the 20th century. The chiru once ranged across the whole Tibetan Plateau, but is now absent from all or most of the eastern plateau, the main stronghold of the species is in the remote Chang Tang area of north-western Tibet.
- Biogeographic realm
- Range States
China, India, extinct in Nepal
- Geographic location
- Ecological region
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Expansion of livestock herding into remote areas and fencing of pastures on the Tibetan plateau have also had an impact.
The construction of the Beijing-Lhasa railway cut off migration routes for the Tibetan antelope. Whilst tunnels have since been constructed to allow migration, improved access to this remote area also facilitates poaching.
What is WWF doing?
WWF works together with local herders, village leaders and reserve managers to develop conservation strategies and measures to tackle poaching and illegal hunting. It works with the Tibetan Forestry Bureau to jointly develop and implement a conservation and management of the Chang Tang nature reserve.