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Yak Domestication in Bangga Tibet


A recent study reveals the earliest evidence of human domestication of yaks in Bangga, a settlement in the Shannan prefecture of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, China. Shannan, located along the Brahmaputra River and sharing borders with Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh, serves as the archaeological site for this significant discovery.


GS III: Conservation

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Major Highlights of the Study
  2. Major Points Related to Wild Yaks

Major Highlights of the Study:

  • Coexistence of Domesticated Yaks and Taurine Cattle:
    • Indication of advanced animal husbandry and agricultural practices 2,500 years ago.
    • Domesticated yaks and taurine cattle found in coexistence within Bangga.
  • Surprising Presence of Taurine Cattle:
    • Presence of taurine cattle near the Indian subcontinent, where Zebus are predominant.
    • Suggested migration of taurine cattle to central and eastern Tibet from Anatolia via the Silk Route and northern Tibet.
  • Origin and Distribution of Cattle Breeds:
    • Most modern cattle breeds in Europe and temperate Asia are taurine.
    • Distinction from Zebu or humped breeds native to the Indian subcontinent and tropical Asia.
  • Unearthing Evidence of Hybrids:
    • Discovery of intentional crossings between yaks and cattle.
    • Significance in highlighting the ancient inhabitants’ nuanced understanding of animal breeding.

Major Points Related to Wild Yaks:

Habitat and Range:

  • Thrives in remote areas of the Tibetan plateau.
  • Inhabits high-elevation alpine tundra, grasslands, and cold deserts.


  • Native wild yak population previously found in Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Currently presumed extinct in those regions, limiting habitat to China and India.
Threats to Wild Yaks:
  • Habitat Loss:
    • Significant threat to wild yaks.
  • Genetic Hybridization:
    • Occurs with domestic yaks.
  • Poaching:
    • Poses a serious risk.
Human-Induced Challenges:
  • Disturbance from human activities and livestock.
  • Forces wild yaks to relocate, impacting populations.
Hybrid Usage:
  • Dzo (Male hybrid) and Dzomo (Female hybrid) bred by crossing cattle and yaks.
  • Utilized by communities across the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.
Conservation Status:
  • IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable.
  • CITES: Listed in Appendix I.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2022: Schedule I.

-Source: Down To Earth

March 2024