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Wild Yak (Bos grunniens)

  • 24 Jun 2019
  • 2 min read

Researchers analysed yak dung to understand the vegetation and climate of the past and the connections they have to extinct the woolly rhino and mammoth.

  • The researchers found that the yak preferred a variety of food. A good diversity of pollen, spores and phytoliths (silica bodies found in plants) were observed.
    • This also indicated that the yak was able to modify its diet according to the climatic change of the past.
    • On the other hand, giant mammoth and woolly rhino which used to live with the yak about 18,000-20,000 years ago were not able to adapt to these changes and thus went extinct.
  • The yak dung analysis also helped to map out the different plants and trees in that area, thus, generating modern botanical analogue of higher Himalayas.
  • These animals mostly depend on the regional flora and studies can throw light on the past vegetation of an area,
  • Across the globe, many researchers are working on fossilized dung of extinct animals. A comparison of the present results with the extinct ones can help understand more about ancestor climatic factors and other adaptation strategies of mega herbivores.

Wild Yak

  • The Yak (Bos grunniens) is endemic to the Tibetan Plateau and the adjacent high-altitude regions.
  • Yaks belong to the Bovini tribe, which also includes bisons, buffaloes, and cattle.
  • It can tolerate temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius
  • IUCN Red list status: Vulnerable
  • Listed under Appendix I of CITES
  • Indian WildLife (Protection) Act of 1972: Schedule II
  • The most serious threat to the Wild Yak’s survival is casual and market hunting. The Yak is hunted for its meat, horns, and other materials.
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