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2001 Everest Expedition and 7th and 8th grade
physical education teacher from Phoenix, Arizona)
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Tibetan yak, Bos grunniens, is most closely
related to the African buffalo, the American bison,
and the European bison. The yak, found only in several
isolated localities high on the Tibetan plateau
between altitudes of 4000 and 6000 meters (13,000 to 19,600
ft), is considered an endangered species.
The students will be able to discuss adaptations that
make the yak suitable for living in high altitudes.
The students will list ways that the Nepalese use the
1. Discuss the importance of the buffalo to the Native
Americans. Include ways that the Native Americans used
and honored the buffaloes. Tell the students that the
buffalo and the yak are similar animals and have many
things in come.
2. Have the students read the paragraphs either orally
or silently. Discuss the reading restating the key
3. Show pictures of yaks (try to include pictures of
how yaks are beneficial to the Nepalese people).
1. Read the paragraphs on yaks and answer the
2. Write a paragraph about how yaks might be used on
the expedition to Mount Everest
1. Come up with five to ten other uses for the hair of
a yak. Try to be creative as possible.
2. Sketch a picture of a yak and a buffalo and compare
Native Americans relied enormously on the buffalo for
their everyday life, so to with the Nepalese people
and the yak, which is similar to the buffalo. Yaks are
used for food, clothing, shelter, and transportation.
The yaks also are regarded highly due to the Tibetans
religious beliefs. Regardless of this high honor,
Nepalese have no qualms about eating the animal.
Actually killing yaks though, is more difficult for
religious reasons, and Buddhist Nepalese do not kill
When a yak is killed, very little is wasted. Horns are
often used for draining blood and cutting meat.
Sometimes horns are often used in decorations. The
head of a yak is dried and served at New Year's
celebrations. The fur of a yak, which can grow to be
two feet long on the torso, is used to make ropes,
clothing, slings, sacks, and even tents. Yak fur tents
are warmer than canvas tents, and these tents hold up
much better under intense winds. The yak fur allows
smoke inside the tent escape, while the oils in the
fur keeps water from penetrating inside. Underneath
the fur is wool which is used for clothing and boots.
Even the tail of the yak has been used by shaman as
The name yak in English is a general term for the
animal species. In Nepal, the term yak means the male
of the species and the female animal is called a dri.
These animals are quite adapted to high altitudes and
they are most comfortable at altitudes of 10,000 to
18,000 feet. When the yak is thirsty at these
altitudes, he will eat the frozen snow, which will
provide him with water. If grass is hard to find with
the snow cover, yaks will dig in the snow until they
find grass to eat. Sometimes a yak will dig a yard
down in the snow until grass appears. Since these
animals are so sturdy, the yaks are used as the main
source of transportation.
The milk of a yak (dri) contains twice as much fat as
the milk from cattle found in the lowlands of Nepal.
This milk is a golden color and is rarely drunk, but
instead is used for yogurt and butter. There are a
variety of uses for the yak butter for example, in
tea, as a face lotion, and as fuel for lamps.
1. What are some of the ways that yaks are used by the
2. How are the yaks adapted for high altitudes?
3. What is a shaman?
4. Write a paragraph on how yaks might be used on an
expedition to Mount Everest.
Microsoft Encarta 99 Find: Yaks