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Endangered Species
Hill Mynah and Wild Buffaloes

BNHS Newsletter dated April 19,1999 reported that the Central Indian race of the grackle or Hill or Talking mynah is under tremendous pressure from the pet trade and is likely to disappear unless stringent action is taken.

Bastar is an area which has been systematically despoiled over the years. The Bastar wild buffaloes are the only pure strain left of the species. BNHS estimates a little over 100 of these are left in the wild.

Chiru - The Tibetan Antelope

WWF-India launched a campaign against Shahtoosh shawls in October 1999. Shahtoosh shawls are made from the fine hair of the Chiru, the endangered Tibetan antelope. Unveiling the campaign, Manoj Misra, director of Traffic India ( WWF-India's trade monitoring arm), emphasized that there is documented evidence that the Chiru is killed for procuring its fine hair.

After being smuggled from Tibet into Kashmir, the raw wool is intricately spun and woven by Kashmiri craftsmen into the delicate shahtoosh shawls. These shawls are unparalleled in lightness and warmth and cost anything between $1000 to $5000. Two-three chirus are killed to provide raw wool for a single shawl. According to the sources of China's State Forestry administration, 20,000 Chirus, out of a population of less than 75,000 Chirus today, are estimated to be killed every year.

This is despite the fact that the Chiru and its parts and derivatives are banned from international trade by virtue of its being listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). India is a signatory to the Convention. India has prohibited the trade under schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection act, 1972.

Offenders risk punishment ranging from a minimum imprisonment of one year to a maximum of six years. The state of J&K is an exception though. Under Schedule II, the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978, allows the trade after obtaining a license from the competent authority. But no such licenses have been issued by the State government, thereby making the trade irregular in the state as well. Nevertheless, the trade continue to flourish from the Valley.

Menaka Gandhi called upon people to build pressure on the J&K government to ban the Shahtoosh industry outright. Other speakers also called for a people's movement against Shahtoosh. Fashion Designer J.J.Valaya promised to persuade his fraternity and people at large to stay off shahtoosh because of its 'gruesome origin'. Even if they don't do so by choice today, they may have to do it by compulsion tomorrow. As of now, the Chiru may not live long .

Source: Financial express Oct 24, 1999