Globalisation of the Cashmere Market and the Decline of Large Mammals in Central Asia

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We suggest that the multibillion dollar cashmere industry creates economic motivations that link western fashion preferences for cashmere to land use in Central Asia. This penchant for stylish clothing, in turn, encourages herders to increase livestock production which affects persistence of over six endangered large mammals (saiga antelope is one of them) in these remote, arid ecosystems.

Globalisation of Cashmere Market

We used time series data, ecological snapshots of the biomass of native and domestic ungulates, and ecologically and behaviourally based fieldwork to test our hypothesis. In Mongolia increases in domestic goat production were associated with a three-fold increase in local profits for herders co-existing with endangered saiga (Saiga tatarica).