Fur Fashions Drive Slaughter of Endangered Species

Fur is making a comeback on fashion runways — and that means trouble for a number of endangered animals, according to an official with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In the 1980s and ’90s, fur was largely out of vogue and thus the animal skin trade dwindled, but recently there’s been an upswing in the illegal trafficking of tiger and leopard fur. Last month, Chinese officials seized 1,276 pelts from tigers, leopards, and otters. Poachers also go after the endangered Chiru antelope in Tibet, whose under-fur is made into very fine, cashmere-like material called Shahtoosh, which has been sought after by fashionistas. Increasingly, organized crime syndicates are getting into the biz of illegally trading endangered animals or their body parts, and violence often follows. A number of officials investigating animal smuggling have been killed under mysterious circumstances, according to a CITES official.