Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yakkety Yak

In Dharali, the visitor sees shaggy black cattle everywhere. These are yak-cow crossbreeds, which are called dzo elsewhere, and joey here. They are wonderfully well suited to the altitude and the climate, Most importantly, they are not at all picky when it comes to food and will find sustenance in twigs if need be. Sadly, this trait which allows them to survive in places where fodder is in short supply, is leading to their decline.

Several villagers are replacing the joeys with cattle because the joeys eat the apple twigs. While I understand the need of the villagers to protect the orchards, I wonder how the cattle will be fed. What effect this will have on a region where the pastures are already overgrazed? Will some sort of physical barrier to the orchards be a better alternative? Is increasing temperature (unsuitable for the joeys) also hastening their replacement with cows?

The first generation crossbreeds are already a rarity with only a couple of old bulls lumbering around. These are awe-inspiring, with their solidity, shaggy tails, massive horns, and 'nothing can stop me' attitude.

Most are 3rd /4th generation crossbreeds with very little of the yak in them. Like the little fellow here. I took a snap of him because he seems to have a map of India on his forehead. A map of India like the rest of the sub-continent draws it, anyway. I thought to flatter him by featuring him here, but he didn't seem too impressed with the idea. Sticking out a tongue to indicate disdain seems to be common among all children, irrespective of species.

1 comment:

nadi said...

was moved by your baby dzo;
his fatal flaw- his ability to survive on twigs