The yaks

Yaks are widely used in the mountainous regions of the Tibet Plateau as transportation, and are relied upon as the main ingredients of the local diet. There are supposed to be as many as 13 million yaks populating the barren landscape at the foothills of the Himalayas .Yaks are members of the bovine family. They are unique animals that live mainly in Qinghai and Tibet plateau. They are two coated animals with a coat of long hair and a soft under down which sheds annually and is normally gathered. Yaks can weigh over 1200 pounds and have a lifespan of 20-25 years. One Yak produces only about 100gms of hair a year. This is pulled or combed in the spring when the animal moults.The

coarser outer hair and fine inner hair is then separated. Hair varies in color from black (wild yaks) to shades of brown. Most prized is inner down hair from yearling calves with a diameter of 15-17 microns and 4-5 cm in length, the adult down is 18-20 microns in diameter and 3-3.5 cm in length. It feels very soft and downy very like camel hair.

Throughout history, the domesticated yak of central Asia has provided Tibetan herders with wool, leather, meat, milk, and cheese. It is a beast of burden and its

 

dung is used as fuel and fertilizer. There are many of them. The larger wild yak, however, decimated by hunting, is an endangered species. Once widely distributed in the high valleys and plateaus of Tibet and the adjoining mountain country, the wild yak now survives in scattered, isolated herds in the most remote, inhospitable areas. Although officially protected from hunting and commercial trade, its future may depend on suitable reserves with good pastures and efficient protection.

 

The wild yak is a sturdy and bulky ungulate with high lung capacity and a thick coat, which are adaptations to the high-altitude environment of Tibet. The males have imposing, stately horns. Although in the past the animal occurred in a wider area of Ladakh, presently it is confined to the Chhang Chhenmo Valley. The historical distribution of the species was spread as far west as the Gya-Miru area, as indicated by the presence of several pit traps, targeted at wild yak, in the area. Species in the past suffered at the hands of trophy hunters, but competition with domestic livestock for the scarce rangeland resources is presently threatening the animal’s population in Ladakh. There is an estimated population of about 200 wild yaks in the region.

 

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