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The yak is a species of ruminant living in Central Asia, around the mountains of the Himalayas. The female Yak is called " Nak ". Yaks live in herds where the majority are females and young males.
White, white and black (Royal Yak), or black (Black Yak or Imprerial Yak), they are sometimes wearing the Tibetan style colorful saddles.
The yaks that you may encounter during a trek are domesticated and weigh about 600 kg. There is also a minority of wild yaks, up to 1 ton. Their height can reach 2 meters and the length 3 meters.
They live between 3,000 and 5,400 meters altitude. The long fleece protects them from low temperatures, their high red blood cell levels allows them to breathe and resist the altitude and agility to make their way on the steepest slopes.
They use their horns in winter to clear a path in the snow and find food and to defend them. Their small hooves allow them to be comfortable on all terrains.
Yaks are essential for the inhabitants of the Himalayas. They are useful for transporting heavy objects, including mountaineers and trekkers’ material, or to mount, guided by a yak -pa. Rarely used to plow the fields, they are prized for their milk, meat or skin. The dung is used as fuel, which is rare in high altitude.
They live about 20 years. Gestation lasts 9 months and the baby becomes independent after about a year to reach the adult size from 7 years.
More docile than the yak but less resistant to cold, dzo is the hybrid, a cross between a yak and a cow or a bull and a nak. They replace the yak at lower elevations and adapt better to the fields.
During our Annapurna circuit trek, we encountered those mountaineers. They impressed us with their calmness and power. The yak is the survival animal that locals proudly display as a sign of prosperity.