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Stocky, ox-like bovine, a yak is the common name given to herd animals, Bos grunniens. Known to have long, upcurved, black horns and a long, shaggy outer coat on the sides, the yak wanders in high altitude regions in Central Asia.
See the fact file below for more information on the yak or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Yak worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- As members of the Bovidae family, together with antelopes, bison, buffalo, cattle, sheep, and goats, yaks are even-toed hoofed mammals that walk on the third and fourth toes of each foot.
- They are ruminants; they have a four-chambered stomach that lets them digest food.
- Wild male yaks are relatively larger than females, standing about 2 to 2.2 meters at the shoulder. Domesticated yaks, on the other hand, reach 1.6 to 1.8 meters in height.
- Both types of yak possess a dense, close-matted undercoat covered by long, shaggy hair. The guard hairs are usually short on the back, and yaks are known to grow long hairs on the side, which can be up to 27.5 inches in length, stretching down close to the ground.
- They also have a shaggy and unkempt tail.
- Adults have long, outward, and upward curved, black horns, and those of males may reach up to 37.4 inches and females up to 19.6 inches. Yaks have broad and low hung heads, humped shoulders, and lower back and rump.
- Their large lung capacity, thick, matted underhair, and shaggy outer coats aid their survival in high altitudes. Aside from having few sweat glands, their blood cells are about half the size of those of cattle, giving them the advantage of greater oxygen capacity.
- They also give off a special paste-like substance, commonly found in their sweat, which helps maintain their matted undercoat and also serves as extra insulation. The Nepalese also use this secretion in their traditional medicine.
- In Tibetan, male yaks are called gyag, and females dri or nak. In most languages that have borrowed the word, even English, yak generally refers to both sexes. Its scientific name, Bos grunniens, originated from Latin bos, meaning “ox”, and grunnio, suggesting “I grunt”, mirroring one distinction of yaks among cattles – they are not known to produce lowing or mooing sounds.
- Wild yaks used to inhabit the plateaus and mountains of western China, Nepal, northern India, and some regions of Mongolia. Currently, yaks can only be found in the Tibetan Plateau and adjacent highlands, including China’s northern Xizang province, western Qinghai province, western edge of Gansu province, and in the Chang Chenmo Valley of Ladakh in eastern Kashmir, India.
- They wander in almost remote high elevation, from as high as 5,400 meters to as low as 3,200 meters, alpine steppes without the presence of trees and bushes.
- Yaks thrive in temperatures as low as 40°C (-40°F) with much hail or snow, saline lakes, and scarce surface water.
- They crunch and consume snow or ice as a source of water and graze on the grasses, lichens, mosses, and other plants in high elevations.
- Wild yaks reach 1,200 kilograms, with a head and body length of 3 to 3.4 meters. Their fur appears to be black with hints of rusty gray, and with the possibility of grayish hairs on the muzzle.
- They establish groups between 10 to 30 members, and are divided by sex, with larger female herds usually of 6 to 20 wild yaks, but can range up to 100 animals, comprising of adult females, calves, and juveniles. Smaller all-male herds, on the contrary, house two to five animals, but can have up to 19; however, older bulls are considered solitary.
- “Before long I was to see the vast herds of drongs with my own eyes. The sight of those beautiful and powerful beasts who from time immemorial have made their home on Tibet’s high and barren plateaux never ceased to fascinate me. Somehow these shy creatures manage to sustain themselves on the stunted grass roots which is all that nature provides in those parts. And what a wonderful sight it is to see a great herd of them plunging head down in a wild gallop across the steppes. The earth shakes under their heels and a vast cloud of dust marks their passage. At nights they will protect themselves from the cold by huddling up together, with the calves in the centre. They will stand like this in a snow-storm, pressed so close together that the condensation from their breath rises into the air like a column of steam.” – Yak sighting reports by the 14th Dalai Lama, Thubten Jigme Norbu,
- Yaks, which were assumed to have been domesticated in the first millennium BCE, live in the mountains and high plateaus of Central Asia.
- Domesticated yaks appear to be smaller than their wild counterparts. Their coats are a spectrum of colors, from black to light yellow-brown. Some yaks of this type even have mottled white patches on their sides and backs.
- Mating season takes place in September; the females may first conceive at three to four years old, calving April to June about every other or every third year, depending on the abundance of food.
- The gestation period ends after nine months. Calves are weaned at one year and become independent few months after. Their average lifespan is over 20 years.
Benefits to Humans
- Yaks are domesticated for their milk, fiber, meat, and as beasts of burden. Their dung is even turned into fuel through combustion.
- As a means of transportation, yaks carry goods across mountain passes for local farmers. They even help in drawing plows.
- Yak milk is often turned into cheese called chhurpi in Tibetan and Nepali languages, and byaslag in Mongolia. Yak butter milk is an ingredient of the Tibetan butter tea.
- Yak fibers, which come in different colors, are soft and smooth, and extend about 1.2 inches long. The yak’s hair is made into ropes, rugs, and various other products. Its hide is also used to make shoes and bags.
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about the yak across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Yak worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Yak, a stocky, ox-like bovine, a yak is the common name given to herd animals, Bos grunniens. Known to have long, upcurved, black horns and a long, shaggy outer coat on the sides, the yak wanders in high altitude regions in Central Asia.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Yak Facts
- Yak Overview
- Yak Anatomy
- Test Yourself
- Life Stages
- Wild and Free
- Close Relatives
- Yak Production
- Yak Wiki
- Chew on This
- Yak Alphabet
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Link will appear as Yak Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 3, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
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