【Geography】The Borders - Chapter 5: Traveling for Survival
In order to survive in the barren Tibetan areas, Tibetans use yaks to carry heavy mineral salt and bring the salt to the city to exchange for the food the village needs.
【Little Story]】Travelling for Survival
There was once a movie about a small Tibetan village in the mountains where the resources of the village were scarce, no food and supplies. There was only enough grass and salt (mineral salt) for the yaks. People in the village needed to collect mineral salt, transporting it by yaks. To get to the city, the yaks and villagers had to cross several mountains, and the road was steep, the weather was sometimes very bad. For their survival, they had no choice but to take all the risks.
The route of transporting salt was very rugged and steep. In addition to the experienced elderly who knew the natural environment very well, the villagers also needed to worship nature and the ancient belief in order to complete the mission.
In the story, the experienced elderly and the brave youngster, went from conflict and distrust to mutual help. The elderly passed on his past experience and beliefs to the youngster, and they completed the difficult survival journey together.
This is the story of a difficult journey. People under the difficult natural environment have the simplest desire - survival.
Salt was invaluable in ancient times. There are three kinds of salt: sea salt, well salt, and mineral salt.
Sea salt is easy to obtain in coastal island countries and can be obtained as long as it is dried.
Well salt is mainly found in land countries that are close to the sea. It needs to be found form wells and dried with firewood.
Mineral salt is the most precious because it can only be found in mountains and underground, and it is not easy to mine.
Therefore, yaks play a very important role in transportation in Tibetan areas. Tibetans in mountainous areas use yak to carry heavy mineral salt and transport it to cities in exchange for daily necessities and food.
【Knowledge 2】 Yaks Like the Taste of Salt
Yaks need to carry heavy salt mines. In order to reward the yaks, Tibetans carry mineral salt in their hands during the journey, let the yak lick the salt, and drive it forward when tired. This is way much friendlier compared to whipping them. It also shows that Tibetans and yaks have positive relationships. It’s a bit like donkeys love to eat carrots, so in order to keep the donkey going, people hung a carrot in front of the donkey. The donkey will move forward because it wants to eat the carrot in front of him.
Generally, it will let the cattle lick some salts for a nutritional supplement when raising cattle.
In the tribes in the African grassland, people sprinkle salt on the side of the water pool, and then you can see the African wild buffalo being attracted. In this way, people can appreciate the buffalos without damaging the ecological balance.
Yak is very important to Tibetans.
Yak fur can be used to make warm clothing.
Yak milk can be added in butter tea that provides calories.
Yak meat can be used as a source of food.
Yak dung can be used as fuel for heating and cooking.
Yak horns can be made into combs.
Yak bones can be amulets.
The feet of the yak are like wearing high heels, but they can climb steep slopes. We saw yaks near the tent were not very big. Was the breed there relatively petite? We asked a local Tibetan there and he told us that Tibetans would drive larger and stronger male yaks to graze in remote suburbs and steep mountains, while female yaks and baby yaks would stay near where the people live and graze on flat grassland. That was why the yaks seen near the tent were all female yaks or baby yaks with smaller size. In the end, the yaks would recognize their way home after grazing.
The larger black spots in the picture above are the smaller female yaks and baby yaks, and the smaller black spots on the mountain are the larger male yaks.
There are some grasslands enclosed with fences in Tibet. Why are there no yaks inside?
Because these enclosed grasslands are used by Tibetans to reserve forage for the yaks in winter. If they don’t do so, the yaks will eat up all the forage, and there won’t be enough grass to eat in winter. So every fenced grass has been carefully planned, and yaks are not allowed to be in.
p.s.1: It was this naughty little yak sneaking into the fence and trying to have a big meal when someone opened the fence. He was found and chased by the owner, then finally driven out of the fence.
p.s. 2: Like wearing high heels, yaks can climb steep slopes and mountains.
In low-altitude Tibetan areas, you can see cattle that look like yaks but are a bit ugly and with uneven fur. They are yak-cattle hybrids. This species can adapt to the low-altitude environment.
Yak-cattle hybrid inherits the advantages of cattle and yak. Their meat and milk production capacity and labor capacity are close to yak’s.
The milk production is about 3.5~5.5 kg per day. When they are fed sufficiently, it can increase by about 2-7 kg, but the quality is worse than that of the yak. Under certain conditions, the meat yield of yak-cattle hybrid is higher than that of Yak, but its meat quality is also worse than Yak.
【待續 to be continue …】
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