Harnessing benefits of transboundary cooperation for conservation and development of Yak: Exchange of yak germplasm among KLCDI member countries (Bhutan, India, Nepal)

28th Feb 2020: Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan handed over to Government of Sikkim (India) one young yak breeding bull and two young yak breeding bulls to Government of Nepal within the purview of Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Strategy and Regional Cooperation Framework and National Highland Development Program (NHDP), Bhutan on 28th February, 2020 at Paro, Bhutan.

The Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) coordinated by International Central for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) provides excellent platform for KLCDI member countries (Bhutan, India and Nepal) to cooperate and implement systematic yak breeding bull exchange programme to address the emerging issue of Inbreeding and reduced productivity in yak.

Yaks play significant role in ecosystem management and food security of the highlanders in the Kangchenjunga Landscape covering an area of 25,081 square kilometers of eastern Nepal, Sikkim and west Bengal of India, and western and south-western parts of Bhutan. The culture and economy of yak rearing has connected people for centuries in this landscape.

Mr. Towchu Rabgay, Chief, Research and Extension Division also the Coordinator for NHDP said that the seasonal movement of herders across the landscape crossing borders was common phenomena that ensured yak breed improvement, fodder availability and facilitated local trade. He mentioned that in particular, the transboundary movement of yaks and herders was critical in getting access to good quality yak breeds for maintaining viable population and sustaining yak production. He added that however, restriction in animal movement over the last few decades has isolated the yak populations. As a consequence, yak populations particularly in the Southern Himalayas of Nepal, Bhutan and India have suffered from in-breeding and reduced productivity.

As a part of 2020 Action Plan for KLCDI,  the KLCDI partners from Bhutan, India and Nepal unanimously endorsed the need to urgently support some of the common issues such as exchange of yak breeding bulls to harness the benefits of transboundary cooperation within the purview of Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Strategy and Regional Cooperation Framework (ICIMOD, 2017)

Dr. Nakul Chettri, Progarmme Coordinator, KLCDI, ICIMOD, Nepal said that through mutual cooperation, the  programme greatly benefited from the good will and courtesy provided by Royal Government of Bhutan in out sourcing high quality young yak breeding bulls in support of transboundary  cooperation in the Kangchenjunga Landscape.  He also shared that similarly, Bhutan can also access good quality yak bulls from Nepal and India through systematic exchange programme in the near future.

This Handing-Taking Note of Yak Breeding Bulls is executed in presence of Dasho Dzongdag, Paro Dzongkhag Administration among implementers of KLCDI yak conservation and human resource development activity of Bhutan, India and Nepal. Dr. Banshi Sharma, Director General, Department of Livestock Services, Nepal and Dr. Sonam Deki Lepcha, Veterinary Officer, Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, Sikkim, India with Yak Herders from the two countries represented their countries in taking over the animals.

The two country delegates also called-on to Dasho Rinzin Dorji, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Bhutan on 27th Feb, 2020 and expressed their gratitude for the generous support of the Royal government of Bhutan. At the meeting, Dasho Rinzin remarked that “Bhutan is pleased to be able to provide high quality yak genetic resource that will enhance livelihoods of the yak herding communities in the neighboring countries of Sikkim (India) and Nepal”. Dasho appreciated the role played by ICIMOD in providing platform for transboundary  cooperation that will greatly benefit yak herding communities in the Kangchenjunga Landscape who are otherwise marginalized and further desired for up-scaling such good practices including other Hindu-Kush Himalayan countries.

Reported by:

Information and Communication Technology Division,

MoAF, Bhutan