Hundreds of goats that provide wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls have died and thousands more face starvation because of heavy snow in India's Ladakh region where they live, officials said.
About 150,000 goats graze on pastures near the border with China where temperatures plunge to as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit).
Pashmina goats, which grow a thick warm fleece, survive on grass but fodder becomes scarce in the harsh winter.
A Ladakh government official saw "heaps" of carcasses after visiting some of the frozen winter pastures.
"The death toll could increase as the pregnant goats have been having miscarriages," Tsering Dorjay told Reuters late on Wednesday, adding the goats faced death from starvation.
"The young ones have been dying because of the cold."
After a ban on shahtoosh, the world's finest wool derived from the hair of an endangered Tibetan antelope, shawls made from Pashmina wool are considered some of the world's finest and they are exported worldwide.
Ladakh authorities said they are trying to get emergency supplies to Pashmina grazing grounds as winter stocks of fodder had run out.
"The fodder has reached to some areas but 30,000 to 40,000 goats still face starvation in snow-bound areas," said Dorjay. (Reuters)
Icy winter kills hundreds of Himalayan Pashmina goats