Srinagar, India: Scientists said Thursday they have cloned a rare Himalayan goat in Indian-controlled Kashmir, hoping to help increase the number of animals famed for their silky soft undercoats used to make pashmina wool, or cashmere.
The March 9 birth of female kid "Noori," which means "light" in Arabic, could spark breeding programs across the region and mass production of the high-priced wool, said lead project scientist Dr. Riaz Ahmad Shah, a veterinarian in the animal biotechnology centre of Sher-i-Kashmir University.
Cashmere wool, particularly made into shawls, is a major source of income for Kashmir, generating about $80 million a year for the Indian-controlled portion of the disputed mountain state. A shawl can cost $200 in Kashmir and much more when sold abroad — a boon given the average salary of $800 a year for Kashmir’s 10.2 million people.
Cashmere goats — which take their name from the Kashmir region but include a number of breeds that produce the soft wool — are traditionally herded in small numbers across the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau in cold and remote mountain areas.
They must live in harsh, windy climates to generate the soft undercoat, for which demand has always exceeded supply.