Karnal-based National Bureau of Animal Genetics Resources has termed the Yaks found in Arunachal Pradesh as a distinct breed called Arunachali Yak. This is the first instance of such a registration in the country.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh will formally award the recognition in New Delhi on Wednesday to the representatives of National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY) based at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh.
Pranab Jyoti Das, who was a senior scientist at NRCY, said a 2014-16 study conducted on the yaks, found mainly in West Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh, had established the Arunachali Yak as a separate breed with distinctly different characteristics from the other yak varieties.
The study found that Arunachali Yaks are characterized by their predominantly black body colour and the high fat content in their milk which sometimes goes up to 7.45 percent. A lactating Arunachali Yak produces, on an average, 1.3 kg milk per day. Though the milk is comparatively of poor quantity, it is compensated by the high fat content which makes it useful to produce different milk products.
The study also pointed out that over the years, the population of Arunachali Yak, which can survive in temperatures of minus 40 degree Celsius, has been declining. This decline has been attributed to cross-breeding, climate change, shift in profession from agriculture to other sectors, threats from predators and diseases, reduction in the availability of fodder, and lack of interest among young herders in yak rearing.
However, scientific interventions, especially in the areas of breeding and rearing, have been able to slow down the decline of population as Arunachali Yaks still remain the main source of livelihood for many Brokpas (yak rearers). West Kameng and Tawang are mainly dominated by the Monpa community, which treats the yaks as an asset for the rural economy, and rears these animals in organized farms or semi-migratory systems.