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Cashmere trade threatening biodiversity

  • Written by  Harley Rustad
  • Published in Wildlife
Cashmere trade threatening biodiversity Shutterstock
01 Sep
2013
A new study published in Conservation Biology has linked the cashmere garment trade to the destruction of ecosystems that support numerous endangered species

Ninety per cent of the world’s cashmere comes from Mongolia and China. As pastoralists attempt to increase their profits by expanding their goat herds, species such as the Bactrian camel, saiga, wild yak and snow leopard are being squeezed out of their natural habitats.

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Snow Leopard Trust examined herder profits, changes in goat herd numbers and wild species populations. They found that many already endangered species were being placed under further pressure through displacement from primary food sources, predation by the herders’ dogs and retaliatory killing of snow leopards by herders.

‘The consequences are dramatic and negative for iconic species that governments have signed legislation to protect, yet the wildlife is continually being squeezed into a no-win situation,’ said lead author Joel Berger of the WCS and the University of Montana. ‘Herders are doing what we would do – just trying to improve their livelihoods, and who can blame them?’

This story was published in the September 2013 edition of Geographical Magazine

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