Biodiversity challenge – Chiru

Fashion victim

I’m willing to bet
You wouldn’t choose
To be in Tibet
In chiru shoes.
Unscrupulous hunters
Making a killing;
Ignorant punters
All too willing
To pay a king’s ransom
For antelope wool –
You too can look handsome,
Stylish and cool.
So vanity rules
At celebrity balls,
Where fatuous fools
Flaunt shahtoosh shawls.
Enjoy your view
From the fashion summit,
While chiru
Populations plummet.
An end to the trend
Is the only hope
For the threatened
Tibetan antelope.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Chiru

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

As its name suggests, the Tibetan antelope, or chiru, is endemic to the inhospitable high-altitude steppe of the Tibetan plateau. The vast herds that used to dominate this harsh landscape have declined dramatically in recent decades, due largely to the increasing popularity of the chiru’s wool, which is generally agreed to be the finest and warmest in the animal kingdom. Demand for this wool among the producers of shahtoosh shawls was responsible for the slaughter of up to 20,000 animals annually. Manufacture of these shawls was officially banned in 2002, but illegal trade in the wool continues to pose a threat to the chiru’s long-term survival. Further info

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