Yaks are members of the bovine family (the same family as domesticated cows, buffalo and bison) that have been domesticated for many thousands of years. They are raised for their meat, milk and fiber and make very good working animals. Wild populations of this species do exist, but are considered vulnerable to the threat of extinction. Yaks are best known for their large size (although wild yaks are generally larger than the domesticated yaks), long fur and distinctive horns. Let’s find out where these animals live.
Wild yaks are found in a much smaller region. They are mostly located in Tibet and the Chinese province of Qinghai. Smaller populations are found in the southern parts of the Chinese province of Xinjiang and the Ladakh region of India. Isolated populations may be found outside of this range and these herds are most at risk of extinction. They were once found in Nepal and Bhutan, but are considered to be extinct in these countries. Wild yaks form herds of about ten to thirty animals, although herds that contain several hundred animals have been known. The most common habitat of wild yaks is the highlands between 3,000 to 5,500 m (9,800 to 18,000 ft) on mountains and plateaus. They thrive in alpine meadows that feature a thick covering of grasses.
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In Central Asia yaks are also sometimes used for sports. Yak racing is quite popular and modern yak sports such as skiing or polo are also becoming more popular.
Yak herds are mostly made up of females and their young. Most adult males are solitary or live in smaller herds of about six yaks.