In an effort to increase the dwindling population of these rare Himalayan goats, Kashmir scientists resort to cloning. The animal biotechnology center of Sher-e-Kashmir University lead by project scientist Dr. Riaz Ahmad Shah saw the birth of the world’s first ever cloned female kid, “Noori,” which means “light” in Arabic on March 9, 2012. This opens the possibility of establishing breeding programs which will, in turn, bolster the production of the soft, high-priced wool for which these goats are renowned.
Though Cashmere wool fibers are fine and light, they are able to retain heat without the bulk. They are mostly made into shawls, which is the major source of income, generating $80M a year for the 10.2 million people of Kashmir. The supply have not kept up with the demand for these expensive shawls that in recent years Kashmir had to import cashmere from China.
The seven-scientist team took two years to clone Noori using the relatively new “handmade” cloning technique involving only a manual method using a microscope. They have since standardized the procedure to “the cheapest, easier and less time-consuming” method and can now produce a clone in six months.