Yak facts

  • Over 90% of the world’s yak population of nearly 15 million lives on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas.
  • Lamps in Tibetan monasteries are fuelled by yak butter.
- Yak cheese has higher amounts of heart-healthy fats than cheese from dairy cattle.
  • Yak polo, played on yaks instead of horses, was pioneered in Mongolia a decade ago
  • A major use for the yak’s coarse tail hair is to create fake beards worn by actors in Chinese opera.
  • In local communities, yak bone is often made into exquisite handicrafts, including combs, buttons and ornaments.
  • The only natural predator of the wild yak is the Tibetan wolf.
  • In Mongolia yak milk is fermented in a leather pouch and distilled as a “milk wine” called archi.
  • In winter a wild yak can survive temperatures as low as – 40 degrees (C).
  • A wild yak doesn’t reach full size until six to eight years of age.
  • Yaks in the wild, most usually give birth in June and a single calf is born every other year.
  • Yaks live in herds of 10 to 100 animals that are composed of large number of females and several males.
  • Dried yak dung is used as fuel on the treeless Tibetan plateau.
  • During the winter yaks use their long horns to shovel through snow to find food.
  • Horns are also used for the protection against the predators.
  • Hooves of yaks are split, which facilitate movement across the rocky and icy terrains.
  • Wild yak can survive up to 20 years in the wild. Domesticated yak can survive few years longer.
  • The male wild yak can reach up to 6.5 feet high at the shoulder and can weigh as much as 2,200 pounds. Wild female yaks are up to a third of the male’s size. Domestic yaks are much smaller in size.
  • Even in the below-freezing winters, yaks have been spotted bathing in lakes and rivers. This is because yak’s warm coat provides insulation through a thick outer coating of long hair and a dense inner coating of matted, shorter fur.
  • It is believed that the strength of yak wool comes from the high levels of amino acids contained within the fibres.
  • Yak wool is very resistant to static electricity meaning garments a less likely to spark or cling to the body during dry conditions.


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