As news reports this week told of the deaths of hundreds of Pashmina goats in Indian-administered Kashmir, a top official in the region said thousands of goats are still in danger. Shahnawaz Khan reports for the VOA from Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Officials in Indian-administered Kashmir say some 600 Himalayan Pashmina goats have died of starvation.
The Capra Hircus or Pashmina goats are reared by farmers in the higher altitudes of Ladakh province of Indian Kashmir. The goats are prized for the soft wool they provide. The wool is woven into Pashmina shawls that are exported around the world. The goats are found mostly in the Changtang plateau which extends into Tibet.
But Kashmir has had one of its harshest winters.
Tsering Dorjay, who heads the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, the top administrative body in Ladakh, says hundreds of goats have died so far because the winter snows have made food scarce.
"We have two types of problems. One is that for the last three years we are facing invasion, from Chinese side, of locusts. Because of that there is not very much grass left. On the western side of Changtang, there is the problem of heavy snowfall," said Dorjay.
Dorjay tells VOA that people showed him carcasses of goats in the few villages he could reach. He said thousands more goats are in danger in inaccessible areas.
"Two places we could not send any relief because the road is blocked because of snowfall," continued Dorjay. "We are in the process of clearing the road at the moment."
But another government official, Nawang Rigzin Jora, a cabinet minister in Indian-administered Kashmir, downplayed the crisis. He denied there have been massive deaths and said fodder has been delivered to most areas struck by snow. But he did say one area has been unreachable.
"There is one village called Kharnag village. It has a population of 150 families and livestock size is about 7,000 goats. This one particular area we have not been able to airdropping of feed and grass," he said.
Kashmir 's Pashmina shawls are exported mostly to the West. Thousands of artisans in the Kashmir Valley earn their living spinning and weaving Pashmina wool produced by the goats of Ladakh.