Yak: The Domestic Bull
The yak is a type of bull that lives in the high altitudes of Tibet, between 4,000 and 6,000 meters in altitude, where it is found both in the wild and domesticated.
IUCN considers the yak to be a species in a vulnerable state and the areas where it lives are protected.
Is the yak a domesticated species?
The yak is a large herbivorous mammal of the bovine family (cows and bulls). Its coat is very abundant and woolly: it protects it from the low Tibetan temperatures that, during the winter, reach 40 °C below zero.
Yaks can weigh up to 1,000 kg in the wild and measure almost two meters in height, while domestic individuals are generally smaller. Males are nearly twice as large as females.
They have an elongated body, with a shoulder-length hump and horns curved up and in, approximately three feet long and six to eight inches in diameter.
Currently, few wild specimens remain. After all, most of them are domestic animals that provide meat, milk, wool and even protection for Tibetans.
The yak is also used as a riding and pack animal as it can carry 150 kg of cargo while climbing. Its milk is very high in fat and, with it, cheese and butter are produced.
Its wool is long and rough, used by Tibetans to make blankets so they can keep warm. Even your manure is used as fuel.
Therefore, the yak is crucial to the survival of Tibet’s populations, and local families decorate their animals with colored ribbons to differentiate them.
How does he live?
The yak is a gregarious animal that forms herds of females, cubs and young animals in which there are at most one or two males. During the mating season, males compete with each other by fighting and growling over the females, who breed only twice a year.
Their main food is plants, the perennial reeds of the Asian mountain regions. Thus, herds migrate to the most abundant pasture areas between seasons.
Because of its large size, the yak has no natural predators at these latitudes. The human being is the species that uses it for consumption. When they die, they become a huge amount of food for scavengers such as the bearded vulture.
This huge bull is most active at sunrise and sunset. In addition, it is worth noting that he is a good climber, as he moves easily in rocky and rough terrain, covered with snow.
During a storm, yaks huddle together to protect themselves from snow and cold and place calves in the center.
The yak’s personality allowed its domestication, which dates back over 3,000 years. It is very common to see crosses of yaks with cows that result in fertile individuals with higher milk and fat production. In fact, that’s why there are physical differences between wild and domestic yaks.
The yak, unlike the rest of the bovine, has an additional pair of ribs that protect a larger heart and lungs as an adaptation to the low oxygen levels of high Tibetan altitudes.
They also have fewer sweat glands, which helps prevent heat loss through sweating. So much so that they sometimes climb to higher altitudes during the summer just so they can cool off. In addition, they also like water and usually bathe in lakes.