Daily News Analysis

Himalayan yaks



  • The National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY) at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district has tied up with the National Insurance Company Ltd. for insuring their livestock.

Why insuring livestock?

  • Yak population has been decreasing at an alarming rate.
  • Climate change and inexplicable changes in the weather pattern have been reported from the yak rearing areas throughout the country.
  • The insurance policy will shield the yak owners against the risks posed by weather calamities, diseases, in-transit mishaps, surgical operations and strikes or riots.
  • More than 500 yaks died in a single spell of heavy rainfall in northern Sikkim in 2019, leading to a heavy financial burden on the owners.

Yak population in India

  • The total yak population in India is about 58,000.
  • The Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir have some 26,000, followed by 24,000 in Arunachal Pradesh, 5,000 in Sikkim, 2,000 in Himachal Pradesh and about 1,000 in West Bengal and Uttarakhand.
  • A four-year-old report said the number of yaks across the country declined by almost 24.7% between 2012 and 2019.


Insurance Policy details:

  • According to the policy, the owners would have to get their yaks ear-tagged and provide a proper description in order to get their animals insured.
  • For claims, the owner has to submit the completed claim form, death certificate from the veterinary practitioner, the post-mortem report and the ear tag.

Himalayan Yak:

  • The Himalayan yak (Bos grunniens) is a totemic animal of the high
  • The woolly yaks are indicators of change in temperature on the mountains. The animal finds it difficult to tolerate the conditions at below 7,000 feet above sea level.
  • It is the largest animal on the Tibetan plateau – it can be as tall as 2.2 metres at the shoulder, and weigh up to a thousand kilogram’s.
  • The domestic yak is a long-haired domesticated cattle found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, the Tibetan Plateau, Northern Myanmar, Yunnan, Sichuan and as far north as Mongolia and Siberia.
  • Yak is a “flagship species”, and indicates the health of the ecosystem within which it lives.
  • It is adapted to the climatic conditions of “cold winter, low oxygen content, high solar radiation, and cyclical nutrition with short growing seasons”
  • Reasons for their population declines
    • Harsh lives that the yak herders live. Yak herders come from the most marginalised of communities, and while the yak may be adapted to the conditions, humans prefer comfort.
    • As wars and conflicts have led to the closing of borders, the yaks outside Chinese borders are “thought to be suffering from inbreeding due to the lack of availability of new yak germplasm from the original yak area, the Tibetan plateau.
    • Climate change has led to uneven production of grass, the yak herders find themselves fenced into grasslands which are under greater pressuren Plateau.