More than 25,000 Pashmina goats, who produce the key component of the popular scarves and sweaters, have died this winter following some of the heaviest snowfall to hit the Himalayan region, the traditional home of the animals.
According to reports, the animals have frozen and starved to death, primarily in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state.
The Changthang area in southeast Jammu and Kashmir has borne the brunt of the weather, the worst in half a century, impacting on the nomadic Drokba people who raise the goats and gather their wool, which is six times finer than human hair.
Jammu and Kashmir state, much of which is located above 10,000 ft above sea level, is arid and sees little rainfall.
Goat herders are frequently required to supplement feed and fodder gathered during the summer with supplies from the local government.
But reports say that an unusually dry summer in 2012 combined with this winter's heavy snowfall and temperatures that often plunged to -25C, has dealt a double blow to the herders.
Pashmina wool has been a prized commodity for hundreds of years and garments made of Pashmina were once the exclusive preserve of Kashmiri royalty.
The word pashmina comes from the Persian word pashm, or wool, and refers to the finest undercoat of the goats.
Each Pashmina shawl requires the wool of three animals.
For the Drokba community, the deaths of the goats has been particularly devastating as their livelihood depends entirely on the animals.
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