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14 Aug 2020 | Transboundary Landscapes

Yak as a landscape connector

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Regional cooperation on yak conservation benefits forged through events and networks in the Kanchenjunga Landscape

Yak as a landscape connector

Yak are an important landscape connector and yak conservation provides an important shared regional interest with clear transboundary needs and regional cooperation benefits.

The transboundary movement of yak across four of our HKH transboundary landscapes is an ageold practice essential for grazing, breeding, and vitality. It brings together communities across the highlands in cultural and economic arenas. Yak are intrinsic to life in the shared landscapes, but their vitality and viability as a mountain livelihood option is eroding.

To revitalize this option and collectively address challenges, we helped establish local yak networks in Bhutan, Nepal, and North Sikkim district in India. The goal is to connect these networks to form an HKH yak network. We also support annual yak festivals in Nepal and Bhutan to connect yakherding communities and other stakeholders for knowledge exchange on herding practices and challenges, technological solutions, value chain development, and trade opportunities. These festivals have been mainstreamed into local and national plans to ensure sustainability.

Yak productivity and populations are declining, and yak-herding lifestyles and knowledge are vanishing. Yak networks and annual yak festivals across the HKH are key to preserving yak-herding culture and sharing knowledge to ensure the vitality of yak raising as a mountain livelihood option.

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