The shahtoosh wool is derived from the soft undercoat of the Tibetan Antelope (also known as Chiru ), which has to be killed before its fleece is removed. Three to four Chiru have to be killed to weave only one shawl. Each shawl can cost several thousand dollars in the international market.
In 1977, the Government of India declared the Chiru as protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of India, 1972. Hunting and trading in products of all Schedule I species is illegal and is punished by heavy fines and imprisonment. Killing the Chiru is also in contravention to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which 151 countries are signatories, including India.
A PIL was filed in the J & K High Court seeing implementation of the provisions of their Wildlife (Protection) Act as well as CITES which prohibits the import of shahtoosh into India , on May 1, 2000 the High Court issued a judgment forcing the government to enact and enforce its wildlife law. Finally in 2002 the manufacture of shahtoosh shawls has finally been banned in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Promulgating an amendment to its laws, the J & K Assembly passed an act which places the Tibetan antelope or chiru ( Panthelops hodgsonii ) in Schedule I of the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, giving it the highest protection, thereby making any use of its derivatives punishable by law. The chiru was earlier in Schedule II of the Act, which made trade or use of its derivatives possible with license.
Dealings in trophy and animal articles without licence prohibited
No person shall, except under, and in accordance with, a licence granted
a. commence or carry on the business as
- a manufacturer of, or dealer in, any animal article, or
- a taxidermist; or
- dealer in trophy or uncured trophy; or
- a dealer in captive animal; or
- a dealer an meat; or
b. cook or serve meat in any eating-house
c. derive , collect or prepare, or deal in, snake venom
However nothing in this sub-section shall apply to the dealers in tail feathers of peacock and articles made therefrom and the manufacturers of such article.