The perennial battle between herders and a yak saving association rages on

Yaks: With 28 yaks tethered on pine trees in a forest above Chamgang, a negotiation for life and money ensued between herders of Dagala and the Animal Life-Saving Association of Thimphu.

One of the herders, who claim to have bought the yaks from other highlanders in Dagala, keep increasing the price whereas the association members pleaded with them to accept their lower offers.

The Animal Life-Saving Association, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) now has to collect Nu 900,000 to save 28 yaks, including eight that are pregnant.

The NGO saved eight yaks earlier this week. But the herders called the NGO yesterday saying they have brought more yaks again.

The association’s coordinator, Nim Dem, 58, had to rush to Chamgang in a taxi with a few volunteers. “If we don’t go and negotiate with them, they’ll kill the yaks,” she said.

Nim Dem and her volunteers did not have cash on hand yesterday. “We just have Nu 22,000 in the group’s joint account. The herders keep bringing more yaks everyday,” she said.

Though the association has saved more than 4,000 yaks since 2010, the herders bring more yaks every year, mounting pressure on the association. “That is why we have to seek donations,” Nim Dem said.

Meanwhile, the herders, who were initially uncomfortable to talk to media, said there are not willing to negotiate on the price the association members offered.

A herder, Thinley, claimed that he bought two male and two female yaks from a herder in Dungdrol and he is expecting more than Nu 40,000 each for the yaks. “If they don’t pay me more than the price I paid, I would rather sell the yaks for meat and fetch a better price,” he said.

Animal Life-Saving Association volunteers and herders negotiate

Animal Life-Saving Association volunteers and herders negotiate

Association members said that herders are claiming more than the actual value of the yaks. Citing the example of how the herders demanded the price of a yak for a calf claiming it was five years old. Association members say the herders are taking advantage of the situation.

A volunteer said that the herders are now looking for easy money as they have started bringing pregnant yaks too.

Such a trend, members say, is against a mutual understanding between the herders and association that they herders will not sell more than two yaks a year from each household.

Two herders, Dago Tshering and Kinga, who sold three yaks each earlier this week, had brought a few yaks yesterday.

Meanwhile, the association will now have to look for more funds if they have to continue their work, as the slaughtering season has just begun.

After negotiations, the association managed to fix the prices at Nu 40,000 for large yaks, and Nu 35,000 for medium-sized yaks, and Nu 22,000 for the small ones.

The volunteers started sending messages and pictures of the yaks to members of the association through WeChat requesting for donations to save the yaks.

Since the herders have not obtained a permit for slaughter, the association has some time to look for money.

Tashi Tenzin


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