In the next few years, Guru Tsering will likely give up the only livelihood he has known. Tsering is a 51-year-old member of the Changpa tribe in Ladakh, and has long made a living through the community's traditional occupation of herding sheep and goats.
These include military tensions in the region, pressures from the local administration to stay out of poorly defined protected areas, the economic attractions of tourism and other avenues of employment, and the effects of climate change.
In recent years, these forces have acted together to make herding an unviable occupation for the Changpa nomads. This despite the fact that they supply the raw material for Ladakh's famed pashmina industry, which was worth Rs 100 crore in 2021.
Travelling through the Changthang region, Safwat Zargar found that today, only a handful of individuals in each village, from older generations, continue to work as herders. While many are reconciled to the loss of their way of life, some experts warn that the decline of herding could soon spell trouble for the pashmina industry.
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