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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Trapped in snow, 300 yaks starve to death in Sikkim

The district collector said about 10 to 15 yaks die every year but admitted that this year’s death toll is higher than ever before.

india Updated: May 12, 2019 07:49 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
The administration has described the incident as catastrophic and unprecedented.
The administration has described the incident as catastrophic and unprecedented.(File Photo / Representative Image)
         

Around 300 yaks have starved to death due to severe cold and excessive snowfall at an altitude of around 15,000 feet in north Sikkim, forcing authorities to rush medical teams to save the remaining animals.

The administration has described the incident as catastrophic and unprecedented.

To save themselves from the cold, families which earn their living by selling yak milk and cheese came down to lower altitudes, leaving the flock behind.

“Due to heavy snowfall, the yaks were stranded at one place in Mukuthang since December, which caused starvation and led to the death of the yaks,” said a press statement issued by the Sikkim government. “The deaths have been reported at Mukuthang Valley near the Indo-Tibetan border,” Raj Kumar Yadav, district collector of North Sikkim district, said. It takes a five-hour journey by vehicle and a three to four hour trek to reach the valley from Gangtok, the state capital.

“The road leading to the area has been blocked for the last three months because of bad weather and heavy snowfall. Several attempts to carry fodder in helicopters and feed the yaks also failed because of bad weather,” Yadav said, referring to the way the government usually deals with such a crisis -- dropping fodder from helicopters.

The district collector said about 10 to 15 yaks die every year but admitted that this year’s death toll is higher than ever before. “There are 40 to 50 yaks still up there that need immediate attention,” he added. Efforts are on to reach the stranded animals.