The best cashmere comes from adorable clones of Himalayan goats

This is Noori, the first ever clone of the pashmina goats found in the Himalayas. This particular breed's wool is said to make the world's finest cashmere, but their dwindling numbers and high-altitude habitat makes them almost impossible to find.

Noori, which means "light" in Arabic, is the product of the Center of Animal Biotechnology at the Sher-i-Kashmir Agriculture University for Science and Technology, or SKAUST. Since its birth ten days ago, it's already gone from just 1.3 kilograms to 5 kilograms, and all signs are that she is developing normally and healthily. As the Hindustan Times reports, these goats produce what is often considered some of the world's finest wool:

The [Kashmir] valley owes its fame, besides natural beauty, to famed fine wool of pashmina, gathered from mountainous of Ladakh after the goat sheds its wool as a natural process. The goat survives minus 40 degree Celsius temperature at an altitude of 14,000 feet. In spring, the animal sheds its fiber, called soft pashm, six times finer than human hair. The fiber is used to spun famous kashmiri shawls, scarves, and stoles.

Much local industry depends on the wool from these goats, and their population decrease in recent years - not to mention the fact that you have to climb 14,000 feet up just to find any of them at all - has led to this recent cloning effort. The hope is that clones like Noori can be relocated and bred in lower-altitude areas, where their wool can still be harvested for fine cashmere while monitoring their overall population.

Admittedly, it might seem a bit questionable whether these goats should be cloned principally for their wool. Still,if this is one of those cases where economic and conservation concerns can be in lockstep, then it seems like a decent practical solution that could benefit both humans and these goats. Of course, that's a mighty big "if." For now, about all I know for certain is that Noori is absolutely adorable - an assertion ably supported by the additional photos at the links.

The Hindustan Times via Inhabitat. Image by AP/Dar Yasin.