Yak Festival 2017

Promoting Yak Based Rural Livelihoods in the Kangchenjunga Landscape

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Honorable Member of National Planning Commission and the chief guest of the Festival, Dr. Prabhu Budhathoki, addressing the local people in the event.

Domesticated yaks play an important role in the lives of mountain people living in high altitude regions in India and Nepal. These animals have historically been used to transport goods across mountain passes, and for their milk, meat and hide. The Kangchenjunga Landscape initiative (KLCDI) has been working to strengthen and promote yak based rural livelihoods in the landscape, and organized a Yak Festival on April 14, 2017 to strengthen and promote rural yak based livelihoods.

The festival took place in Phalelung rural municipality in Panchthar district, an area bordering Sikkim and the Indian territory of the Kangchenjunga Landscape (KL) at an altitude of 3,515 metres above sea level. The event was organized to preserve the culture of yak herding in the region by supporting the livelihoods of yak-dependent rural populations and linking them with high altitude ecotourism. Surketham Dairy Cooperative, the local District Forest Office and other district stakeholders organized the event with support from KLCDI, a transboundary initiative at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). 

National Planning Commission (NPC) member, Honorable Dr. Prabhu Budhathoki was chief guest of the event and inaugurated the festival. Among those attending were and the Chief District Officer of Panchthar and other district line agency officials. Dr. Budhathoki said that the NPC supports the idea of continuing such events in the future and will support yak-related activities through government channels. He also assured all present that the NPC will liaise with other partners to support such activities.

Yak in the Festival

Close to 2,000 people from the KL India (Sikkim, West Bengal, Darjeeling and Siliguri) and KL Nepal (Jhapa, Ilam, Panchthar, Terhathum and Kathmandu) attended the event. About 500 yak from about 22 herds were exhibited, as were dairy products made from yak’s milk. In its second year of implementation, KLCDI is looking forward to promoting yak based rural livelihoods through transboundary ecotourism to ensure that landscape conservation also fosters regional cooperation.