nonfiction nuggets…ever heard of a chiru?

The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter

In the cold, windswept lands of northern Tibet, a shy antelope-like creature called the chiru live.  Unfortunately for the chiru, their wool is some of the warmest and finest in the world, and their numbers have been decimated as they have been killed in order to obtain it.  They can’t be raised for their wool, as they simply don’t adapt well to domestication, so the chiru have dwindled from a million to less than one hundred thousand as people hunt them for their “shahtoosh.”

To help protect the chiru, a group of experienced mountaineers offered their skills to wildlife scientists in tracking down the as-yet-undiscovered chiru breeding grounds.  These four men lugged hundreds of pounds of supplies, trekked through icy canyon streams, heaved and pushed and mended their baggage carts, until finally they were privileged to find the secret birthing grounds of the chiru, far off in the foothills of the mountains.  These areas are now protected by the Chinese government.

Beautifully, poetically written, this account of the chiru is easily accessible to young elementary age children.  Gorgeous, colorful acrylic paintings fill the pages, transporting us to the wild and lonely Tibetan plains and mountains.  Several photographs of chiru and of these four trekkers, are included. 

Amazon link:  The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story