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US Ambassador's Wife To Give Up Shawl

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 01/04/12; April 12, 2001.]

NEW DELHI, India April 4, 2001 (AP) - The U.S. Embassy said Wednesday that the wife of the outgoing American ambassador will turn in her shahtoosh shawl - a luxurious wrap made from the throat fur of endangered Tibetan antelopes.

Three to five of the antelopes, called chirus, are killed to make each shawl. The shawls cost $2,000-$15,000 each and are so fine that they can be pulled through a wedding ring.

The purchase and sale of shahtoosh shawls are illegal in India and the United States. The shahtoosh trade is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which the United States is a signatory.

"She hasn't given a time frame but she will return it to the concerned authorities before she leaves India," Gordon Duguid, the U.S. Embassy press secretary, said of Jacqueline Lundquist, wife of outgoing ambassador Richard Celeste.

Celeste is a former Ohio governor and Peace Corps chief. He was appointed by former President Clinton.

Wildlife activists raised a furor when it was reported that Lundquist had a shahtoosh shawl.

"It was public knowledge. She had been wearing it in public for almost a year," said A.K. Ganju, private secretary to Environment Minister Maneka Gandhi, a wildlife activist.

Lundquist, who said she wasn't aware that possession of shahtoosh shawls was illegal, has volunteered to turn over the shawl "to the concerned authorities," Duguid said.

Environmentalists say chirus are slaughtered by the thousands in China and their hides are taken to Kashmir, where the fiber is woven into shawls and scarves.


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