Shawls made from Tibetan antelope wool

Shahtoosh wool obtained from the Tibetan antelope is considered to be the finest wool in the world. Three to five antelopes are killed in order to produce a shahtoosh shawl. As a result, the antelopes are an endangered species and trade in the shawls is strictly prohibited. 


Illegal trafficking of shahtoosh wool shawls - an ongoing issue

The seizure of 69 shahtoosh shawls in December and January shows that the illegal trafficking of “shawls of shame” is still a problem. In order to produce these 69 shawls, around 300 Tibetan antelopes were killed, because the wool of three to five antelopes is used to make one shawl. As these antelopes are endangered/threatened with extinction, trade in shahtoosh shawls is strictly prohibited. Shahtoosh wool from Tibetan antelopes is considered to be the finest in the world.

Shawls of shame – Illegal trade in shawls made from wool of the Tibetan antelope


Tibetan antelope

The wool of the Tibetan antelope is considered to be the finest, warmest and softest wool in the world. The wool is obtained from wild antelopes. The animals live at altitudes up to 5,000 metres and have thus developed a fleece adapted to the very cold climate. Since they cannot be domesticated for shearing and the trade in their wool is strictly prohibited, the animals are killed illegally.

Antelopes threatened with extinction

Three to five Tibetan antelopes are killed to produce a single shawl. As a result, this protected species has seen a 90 % decline in its population within a century. 

The Tibetan antelope has been listed in CITES Appendix I since 1979. It therefore has the same protection status as elephants, tigers and rhinos; in other words, all trade in products derived from this species is strictly prohibited.

Seizures of shawls

These shawls are luxury products. A shawl can cost up to 25,000 Swiss francs. Switzerland is an importing country because it has a clientele which can afford to buy them.

In 2018, the FSVO and the Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA) seized 41 shawls made from shahtoosh wool.

Number of shahtoosh shawls seized in Switzerland and estimated number of animals killed

Shawls are seized every year, indicating that the illegal trade remains active. This trade is organised on an international scale and the number of shawls seized in Switzerland is only the tip of the iceberg.

Switzerland’s commitment

In order to combat this illegal international trade effectively, the FSVO works closely with Interpol and Europol, and also with the countries producing this wool. It is vital to raise their awareness of the problem of species conservation and to prevent exports of shawls.

The FSVO is also working to educate consumers, who are often unaware that they are wearing wool obtained from an endangered species.

More information

Last modification 18.02.2020

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