Wild Yaks are ancestors of the domestic yaks. They live in the most remote region of the Tibetan plateau, grow to extraordinary sizes, and can weigh up to a ton. Wild Yaks are known to occasionally get into domestic herds and mate, thus enriching the stock of the Tibetan nomads’ yak herds. Domestic yaks also sometimes run off and join the wild herd, which in turn dilutes the pure Wild Yak genes. Very little, however, is known about the Wild Yak and no organized study has ever been done. CERS has been conducting research on the Wild Yak at the Arjin Mountain Nature Reserve bordering Xinjiang and Tibet. Since 1993, Wong How Man has been Chief Advisor of this reserve, which is larger than Taiwan. As the Uighur people living in the region have no history of keeping domestic yaks, it is believed that the Wild Yak herd within this huge reserve consists of the purest Wild Yaks in the world. It is possible that such stock, especially from single bulls which leave their herd after losing mating battles, would be able to provide a gene pool that could be used to enrich that of domestic yaks, be it through mating or artificial insemination.
WILD YAKS AND A BRUSH WITH DISASTER
Paul Buzzard, PhD
Cuochi, Qinghai - April 2010
As the earthquake tragedyunfolded in Yushu, Qinghai, in mid-April, our thoughts and prayers have definitely been with those affected. On that fateful day, we were fortunately in the Cuochi community over 250 kilometers away. We barely felt tremors that morning and didn’t even hear the news until that night. I was not able to make international calls but thankfully a prompt email response by How Man put my mother at ease. The earthquake certainly put things in perspective, and we quickly had a meeting in response. We decided it best that I return to Xining via Golmud while the others finish the last wild yak protection team workshop in Cuochi before returning to Jiegu to check on friends and help out the rescue effort.
TRACKING WILD YAK IN THE SNOW
Wong How Man
Dunhuang, Gansu - 21 January 2010
The sound is disturbing. With each step, I can hear the ice cracking behind me as I cross the frozen river. Rather than walking, I am waltzing awkwardly on ice, sliding one foot after the other, as I glide gingerly towards the other bank.
The five yaks we are trying to approach are on the other side of the river, still 500 meters away. We cannot make just a single crossing to reach them. As the river meanders, we have to cross over it several times. And then there are other smaller streams between us and the yaks. So the sound of cracking ice becomes more frequent - and foreboding.
HOW YAKS CAN CHANGE THE ECONOMIC
AND ECOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE OF TIBET
Wong How Man
Tai Tam, Hong Kong - 28 September 2008
There are over 13 million yaks on the Tibetan plateau, accounting for over 90% of the
world’s yak population.This number provides for a ratio of 2.5 yaks to each Tibetan.
Historically a Tibetan nomad family can subsists on a dozen or so yaks, providing the most basic requirements for livelihood. The wool can be used to make their tents, knitted as sweaters, or weaved as rugs. The meat provides high protein low cholesterol beef as food. The milk (no toxic melamine added in such remote area!) is made into butter, key ingredient of the all-important Tibetan beverage called butter tea, as well as yogurt and cheese. The yak also serves as a beast of burden. Even its dung, when dried and hardened, provides a most useful fuel for cooking and heating.