All wild cattle have a keen
sense of smell, and the yak is no
exception. Yaks are constantly sniffing to collect information
about each other, their enemies, and food sources. Males spend
great deal of time watching other males to assess their ability
fight. They use posture and movement to challenge each other,
because they don't have enough facial musculature to change their
expressions. Often the challenges are between yaks of unequal
strength: that way the weaker one can back down, and neither
How they hunt.
Yaks are grazing animals, and
do not hunt. They are
surprisingly agile, however, and have been known to slide down
snowy hillsides, swim rivers, and make small jumps--maneuvers
might not be expected from animals that weigh over a thousand
pounds and stand six feet high at the shoulder.
What they eat.
Like domestic cows and bison,
yaks feed on grass.
Many of them are kept domestically by people like the Sherpas
Mt. Everest, and the Sherpas see to it that their yaks find plenty
to eat, even in cold weather. Yaks are very strong, and can carry
heavy loads for people. Their horns and 3-foot-long hair can
made into a variety of useful items.
How they multiply.
Usually one calf is born to
a female yak, or
'dri,' at a time, although twins do occur. The dri's milk is
rich, and calves grow quickly. People make use of the yak's milk
well--a yak can be milked three times a day.
Where they live.
Yaks are found in the cold,
dry regions of the
Tibetan Plateaus in Central Asia. Often they are found at altitudes
higher than 16,000 feet. Their blood is much thinner than that
most mammals. This allows them to easily maintain more of the
scarce oxygen in their systems without having to breathe harder,
most mammals would have to do.
Green light. As domestic animals, the yak's future
is assured. At one time they were hunted nearly to extinction,
the native people of the highlands discovered that farming the
was a much more productive way of using it as a resource. Wild
do occur in smaller numbers, and if nothing changes, they always
A Yak is sliding its way downhill to you at this very
moment. When it arrives, we'll let you "pet" it. In
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