The Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) today applauded a decision today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Tibetan antelope, also known as "chiru," as an endangered species. Through a series of expeditions to China’s windswept Chang Tang Reserve over the past two decades, WCS had played a key role in sounding the alarm about the dramatic decline of this elegant animal due to poaching.
The antelope’s wool, considered the finest in the world, is used for "shahtoosh" shawls (shahtoosh translates to "king of wool"), which are sold in the black market for up to $15,000 each. In the 1980s and 1990s, smuggled shawls made their way to European and U.S. markets, and became elite – though highly illegal – fashion statements. With such a high price on its head, tens of thousands of antelope have been slaughtered in recent years.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing the Tibetan antelope under the Endangered Species Act, reinforcing protection for an animal already safeguarded under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which means that the species, including its parts and products, is prohibited from international trade for commercial purposes. The listing, published in today’s Federal Register, takes effect April 28, 2006.
Stephen Sautner | EurekAlert!
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