The Shahtoosh trade and the Tibetan antelope (c) 2017

Extreme environments often breed precious products, and many Tibetan-plateau-originated plants and animals turn into precious and luxury goods around the world. Before 80’s and 90’s, a type of shawl called Shahtoosh was a fashion among European and American elites, and a Shahtoosh shawl can get very pricey with an basic price of $5000 in the western market.

Shahtoosh is made from the fur of an animal called Tibetan antelope, which is also called Chirus, and Chiru is native to the Tibetan plateau and is considered a typical representative of the fauna of this region, which makes the Tibetan antelope a species with important scientific value. Meanwhile, they obviously have economical values as well as their furs, skin, and meat are seen as treasures and the medicinal use of the antlers has a place in Chinese medicine.

The result for the recognizance of their body parts is, they almost went extincted in about a hundred years after the first Shahtoosh was brought to the British court in the late 1800’s. Fortunately, since the end of the 20th century, the Tibetan antelopes has been protected both on the governmental level and the grass-root level, as the international community legally bans the Shahtoosh trade and the Chinese, Nepalese, and Indian government reserve their inhabitant; in addition, non-governmental organizations voluntarily patrol the lands where chirus live and actively fight poachers, and the numbers of the species is now restoring. “Kekexili: Mountain Patrol” is a good movie to know more about the protection of the Tibetan antelopes.


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