STORIES

The Pashmina's Shepherds

Ladakh, India

The Changpa nomads are a semi-nomadic Tibetan people living in the highlands of Ladakh and in Jammu and Kashmir, at altitudes averaging 5000 meters above sea level. Herdsmen, they mostly live off shepherding Pashmina wool-bearing goats. But climate change is forcing them to rethink their livelihoods. Increased shifts in the weather across the region -- bitter, extreme cold in winter and exceptionally dry and arid summers -- are in fact pushing many tribes and individuals to migrate to villages and cities, seeking alternative ways of income and abandoning their itinerant traditions. The production of Pashmina -- which is key for the local economy, given demand of the fabric both in India and abroad -- is suffering as a consequence.  To obtain this exceptionally warm and light fine fiber the animals need to be bred in particular climate conditions,  which makes the nomads the only people able to produce it. That's now at risk. 

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