Our next stop in our notebooking safari across Asia takes us to India. If you’re new to the notebooking safari, visit our first stop here.
No trip to the mountains would be complete without making sure you get a chance to see a wild yak. I’m sure you’ve seen quite a few yaks since our safari began, but those have all been the domestic kind. They are used by people in many countries for their meat, milk, and coats as well as being used as transportation and a way to haul heavy loads long distances. The wild yak is much less common. The best place to spot one in India is the Chang Chemmo Valley in eastern Kashmir.
Keep watching up ahead for a herd of wild yaks. You’ll know them when you see them. One word comes to mind to describe them—HUGE! When you see a picture of them, they might remind you of a big, brown, shaggy bull. And, both yaks and bulls are part of the same family and genus (Bovidae; Bos). But you’ll notice a few differences.
Stop—there. Do you see them? The larger one off to the right, with the gigantic horns, is a male. Maybe you have some pretty big bulls back home where you live, but have you ever seen one that size? He’s over 10 feet (3 meters) long, over 6 ½ feet (2 meters) high at his shoulders, and he weighs close to a ton (907 kg). His horns are over 3 feet (1 meter) long. Even his tail is long—it’s almost 2 feet (61 cm) from end to tip!
God gave these huge beasts just what they needed to survive up here in the cold, thin air. Their long, thick hair helps to insulate them, their hooves are wide and slightly splayed to help them navigate through the heavy snows, and even their red blood cells are specially designed. These cells are very small but there are a lot of them, which makes it possible for the wild yak to draw the most amount of oxygen possible from the air they breathe.
I think it’s amazing that God could make an animal so huge and still care about the smallest of cells in its body, don’t you?
You can see a picture of a wild yak here.*
Using the information on this page*, answer the following questions:
*Note to parents: please review this page before sharing with your children. Brief mention of the yak’s mating age is made but no details are given.
True or False:
- While the wild yak is equipped for the cold, it really likes it hot.
- Herds travel together for life.
- A male’s horns are longer than the female’s.
Research challenge: Describe in more detail how the wild yak’s red blood cells make it especially suited for breathing the thin mountain air.
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