10 Fascinating Facts about Yak – “Beasts of Burden”

Yaks (Bos grunniens and Bos mutus) sightings are common in Himalaya. For many generations, inhabitants of high-altitude regions; Karakorum, Tibet, Mustang, Everest, have been using Yaks’ Milk for sustenance (few other using its meat for meal).

The experts suggest, yaks are more closely related to American Bison than to the other members of its designated genus, i.e. Cattles. Some Yaks in the wild could weigh a ton, making it a huge and a dangerous animal.

People in Northern Nepal have been using yaks to carry loads; salt and other edible products, for trade since primitive times. Eric Valli’s film “Caravan” shows how they’ve been used for the variety of transports.

tibetan yak carrying loadsThe boom in tourism of Khumbu valley and the heavy influx of trekkers motivated many Sherpa guides and porters to employ domesticated Yaks in great numbers to carry heavy loads up to the Everest base camp.

One can enjoy observing “Beasts of Burden” in one of the Everest treks.

# 10 Fascinating Facts about Yak

  1. The experts suggest that Yak may be more closely related to American Bison than to the other members of its designated genus, i.e. Cattle.
  2. Wild Yak adult can stand 5.2-7.2 feet tall and weigh about 670–2,200 lb.
  3. The udder in female and the scrotum in male is small and hairy, as protection against the cold. Female Yaks are found to have 4 teats.
  4. Yak is naturally adapted to high altitudes, their larger lungs and heart effectively helping in transporting oxygen through its blood.
  5. Yak and its manure have little to no detectable odor when maintained appropriately in pastures or paddocks with adequate access to forage and water. Yak’s wool is naturally odor resistant.
  6. Yak may live for more than 20 years in domestication or captivity.
  7. Yak secretes a sticky substance through its sweat which helps keep its under-hair matted and acts as extra insulation. The secretion is also used in traditional Nepalese medicines.
  8. Female generally gives birth for the first time at three or four years of age, and reach its peak reproductive prime at around six years.
  9. In parts of Tibet and Karakorum ‘Yak Racing’ is prevalent at traditional festivals.
  10. In Nepal, Tibet and Mongolia, domestic cattle are crossbred with yaks. This gives rise to the infertile male ‘Dzo’ as well as fertile females known as “dzomo” or “Zhom,” which may be crossed again with cattle.



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