Nepal Police have unearthed a smuggling racket of wild animal parts, in which it has suspected that at least 10,000 Tibetan antelopes have been killed to extract rare wools from the endangered animal.
In a month-long operation named “Cobra”, Nepal Police seized 1, 580 kg of Tibetan antelope wools from two Nepali districts ( Dhading and Gorkha) adjoining Tibet.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Uttam B. Karki said “To collect this much amount of wools, our investigation suggests that the poachers and smugglers must have killed at least 10,000 Tibetan antelopes,”
The market value of the rare wools, locally known as shatoosh or chiru, stands at about USD 59 million.
Along with the rare wools, police also seized around 200 kg of tiger hides and skin and 125 kg of tiger teeth from Nuwakot and Gorkha in central and western Nepal, respectively.
The exceptionally fine under fur of the Tibetan antelope or chiru insulates it against the harsh climate of the Tibetan plateau. Unfortunately, this fur, known as shahtoosh, also makes the chiru a target for illegal hunters.
There is an estimated 75,000-100,000 left because of the commercial hunting of chiru for the under fur. And that have a serious impact on the species, Despite CITES protection, illegal hunting continues to pose a threat.
Expansion of livestock herding into remote areas and fencing of pastures in Tibetan 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.
Photo from: visualphotos