Monday, August 1, 2011

Yak

Domestic Yak
Yaks are an interesting animal to cover. Why? Because, like the Bactrian Camel, they are both wild and domesticated. Native to the high Himalayan Mountains, Yaks were domesticated around 3,000 of years ago, and these individuals make up a vast bulk of the overall population. The wild Yaks are becoming quite rare. Their population is decreasing and there are estimated to be around 10,000 remaining.

Domesticated Yaks are huge animals, with the largest males weighing close to 2,000lbs. Interestingly, the name "Yak" comes from a Tibetan word that refers to only males of the species, but its since come to be used for both sexes. Yaks are used for meat, milk, transportation, hair, and hides. Their dung is even used as fuel, which is fantastic in a high altitude area void of trees.

Yaks have some pretty cool physical attributes. For example, they have red blood cells that are half the size of those found in cattle... but they have 3 times as many. This helps them to carry oxygen easier in at high elevations. They also have very broad hooves that make traversing rough terrain a simple undertaking. Yaks need to travel far and wide to find food, as vegetation is quite scarce.

There are around 12 million domesticated Yaks found around the world, but a huge majority of those live on the Tibetan Plateau. Wild Yaks face threats of illegal hunting and habitat loss.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Central Asia
Size : Height up to 6.5ft (2m), Weight up to 1,800lbs (800kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Bovidae -- Genus : Bos -- Species : B. grunniens

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