The Chamgang Semchen Tsethar Tshogpa yesterday released four yaks brought by the herders of Dagala at Chamgang, Thimphu.

Dagala is a day’s walk from Chamgang, Thimphu.

The herders had brought 18 yaks of which four were brought by the committee for Nu 40,000 each.

In the morning yesterday, two of the yaks were slaughtered as the herders had to sell it to the meat shop owners.

The herders said that if the committee doesn’t buy the yaks, they would be slaughtered.

Committee’s representative, Nim Dem, said that this was the first time the committee didn’t buy all the yaks brought by the herders. “The four yaks bought were brought by the owners here. The rest were by some businessmen who brought the yaks at cheaper rate from people afar and are selling it to us at a higher rate.”

The committee didn’t buy the remaining 16 yaks in hopes of putting an end to such activities.

“The committee completely depends on donations and we have no source of income. Donors are also saying that the committee is buying from such businessmen.”

Herders from Dagala gewog bring their yaks every year for sale on the months of September, November, December and January.

There are 44 households in Dagala gewog that depend completely on yaks as a source of income.

One of the herders Sonam Tobgay said that the dairy products from yaks earned them Nu 20,000 a year. “We have annual ritual at home. The money from three yaks sold would all be spent on the rimdro. Sometimes it isn’t even enough and the expenditure keeps increasing.”

Sonam Tobgay’s three yaks were among the four the committee bought.

He said he would sell two more yaks this year to generate enough income for the year. “We have about 100 yaks at home. I only bring five yaks for sale every year. We have no other means for income so we have to do it.”

About 20 yaks are born every year at Sonam Tobgay’s herd. About 11 survive.

The households in Dagala gewog have a maximum of 200 yaks and a minimum of 60 yaks.

Last year following a discussion between the committee and herders from Dagala, it was decided that the herders would only bring five yaks for sale every year. This however has not worked.

The yaks brought by the committee are released in Saephu, Wangdue.

Nim Dem said that the yaks were divided between the herders at Saephu.

She added that a contract was also signed between the committee and the herders at Saephu. “The people there don’t even have meat during their annual rimdro and I am sure that they won’t harm the animal. The committee also monitors the yaks twice a year.”

The contract also states that killing, selling, and losing the yaks due to carelessness would be dealt according to law.

Nim Dem said that although a few are paid for taking care of the animals, many have denied receiving payment.

Funding is one of the major challenges faced by the tshogpa today. The tshogpa seeks donations at various events including tshechu and through social media group chats. “The money received from the donation is just enough to buy about three yaks. We are able to help with a lot of people who come and donate individually.”

Since the tshogpa began in 2010, it has released over 3,300 yaks. This excludes over 1,000 animals including hen, fish, pig, goat, sheep, and cow.

Nim Dem said that the culture and importance of ‘tsethar’ would be soon forgotten if no one continued this deed. “We have to let our children know that saving the life of an animal is a good deed. They should know about such activity. Today only the committee works to release the animals.”

Phurpa Lhamo