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Starvation leads to death of 300 Himalayan yaks in Sikkim

Report By Umme Sarah | Mount Carmel College Student Bengaluru | Last Updated at May 12 2019

The roads were blocked due to heavy snowfall that led animals stranded at one place since December without food.

As per reports, around 300 rare Himalayan yaks starved to death in the high mountains of north Sikkim, which is close to the border of China.

The peaks of Muguthang and Yumthang in northern Sikkim was visited by a group of local administrators and veterinarians and they discovered corpses on Friday.

Families that earn their living by selling yak milk and cheese came down to lower altitudes, leaving the flock behind in December.

They left the yak to save themselves from the cold.

The yaks stayed there for four months without any food.

Tourists go for a yak ride and in return, they are a great source of income for locals.

They also treat yak as beasts of burden. Yak is also famous in Sikkim for their milk, cheese, and meat.

A herd of domesticated yaks from Lachen went for their favourite place to graze to Mukuthang and Yumthang.

But the road leading back got blocked in December.

The blockade was cleared only 5 days ago when a team visited the tragic spot consisting carcasses.

The journey to Yumthang is not feasible as the road usually remains foggy and the climate is terrible. It also becomes dark very early at 5:30 pm.

The administration has described the incident as catastrophic and unprecedented.

District Magistrate, Shri Raj Yadav said “About 10 to 15 yaks die every year but admitted that this year’s death toll is higher than ever before.

There are 40 to 50 yaks still up there that need immediate attention, efforts are on to reach the stranded animals”.
Fifteen Families of Mukuthang and ten families of Yumthang have been affected by this catastrophe.

“The government would compensate the yak owners with 30,000 Indian rupees ($430) per yak up to a maximum of three yaks per family”, Raj added.

Later a medical team of Animal Husbandry Department along with aid and fodder reached to Mukuthang for medical treatment and to feed the rest yaks.

“There has been human interference like construction of roads in the area. Snow sliding down and blocking roads could be a result of such activities.” said Usha Lachungpa, a conservationist in Sikkim.

It could take a long time for the area’s yak population to grow and reach the level before the recent catastrophe, Usha said.
Various groups in Sikkim have rendered their support to compensate for this rare loss. One among them is ‘The Voice Of Sikkim’ who is asking for suggestions to save this extinct.

A team of District Administration in coordination with ITBP has started ascertaining actual death toll and preparing a report.

Till May 13 the report will be submitted to the DC Office.

Subsequently, the compensation will be distributed to the affected families as per norms.

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