Nima Wangdi | Soe

This year saw a marked increase in the number of yaks being sold to slaughterhouses in Paro.

Soe is one of the remotest gewogs of Thimphu, a two-day walk away from Shana in Paro.

People attribute this trend to the pandemic. There are no tourists and they could not sell cordyceps and dairy products this year. The people here need other sources of income.

Dorji [real name withheld] sold three yaks last month. He did it in spite of himself. “But in such situations, we have no other options.”

Highlanders also sell yaks for house constructions, to pay back loans and buy feeds for animals.

Pema Khandu, 56, from Dogilachu, said that animals had to be fed Karma feed.

Another villager said that highlanders had to buy everything except water and firewood. And the prices of commodities have increased over the years.

“With tourism closed, horses do not bring income. And we have not been able to sell our cordyceps,” he said. “We are forced to sell our yaks.”

Nim Tshering, 37, from Jangothang, owns 150 yaks. He sold two recently to buy feed for yaks and horses.

He said that depending on size some yaks fetched Nu 100,000.

People say that if the pandemic prolongs they might be impelled to sell more yaks.

Soe Mangmi Tshering Dorji said until November people had sold close to 20 yaks compared last year. Only eight were sold last year.

He said that the number of yaks being sold was worrying.