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  • 07 December, 2022

  • 5 Min Read

Himalayan Yak

Himalayan Yak

  • The Himalayan Yak has been approved as a 'food animal' by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • The move is expected to help slow the decline of the high-altitude bovine animal's population by incorporating it into the conventional milk and meat industries.
  • Food animals are those that are raised for food production or human consumption.

About Himalayan Yak:

  • The Yak is a member of the Bovini tribe, which also includes bison, buffaloes, and cattle. It can withstand temperatures as low as -40° C.
  • They have long hair that hangs off their sides like a curtain, sometimes touching the ground, allowing them to live at high altitudes.
  • Himalayans place a high value on yaks. Tibetan Buddhism's founder, Guru Rinpoche, is said to have domesticated the first yaks.
  • They are also known as the lifeline of pastoral nomads in the Indian Himalayan region's high altitudes.
  • Yaks are traditionally raised through a primitive, unorganised, and difficult transhumance system.
  • They are endemic to the Tibetan Plateau and the surrounding high-altitude regions.
  • Yaks are most at ease above 14,000 feet. When foraging, they can reach elevations of 20,000 feet and rarely descend below 12,000 feet.
  • Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir are the Indian states that raise yaks.

India's population:

  • The countrywide population trend shows that the yak population is rapidly declining. According to a 2019 census, India has approximately 58,000 yaks, a 25% decrease from the previous livestock census in 2012.
  • This sharp decline could be attributed to lower bovid remuneration, which discourages younger generations from continuing with nomadic yak rearing.
  • Yak milk and meat are primarily sold to local consumers because they are not part of the conventional dairy and meat industries.


  • The yak serves a multifaceted socio-cultural-economic role for pastoral nomads who rear it primarily for nutritional and livelihood security due to a lack of other agricultural activity in the higher reaches of the Himalayan region where animals other than the yak struggle to survive.


  • Climate Change: The rising temperature of the environment at high altitudes causes heat stress in yak during the warmer months of the year. This, in turn, affects the animal's physiological response rhythms.
  • Inbreeding: Because wars and conflicts have caused borders to close, yaks outside borders are thought to be suffering from inbreeding due to a lack of new yak germplasm from the original yak area.

Protection Status of Wild Yak (Bos mutus):

  • IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
  • IUCN considers the wild species of yak under Bos mutus, while the domestic form is considered under Bos grunniens.
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972:Schedule I

Read Also: Red Panda and IUCN

Source: The Hindu

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