Slaughter of the Yaks

Slaughter of the Yaks

The following information is taken from a Human Rights Watch report, June 2007: No One Has the Liberty to Refuse: resettlement of Tibetan nomads. Based on this report, it would appear that Chinese authorities are deliberately targeting slaughter of yaks as a key method of depriving nomads of a sustainable living on the grasslands, since nomads are totally dependent on yaks for survival.

Most of those herders to whom Human Rights Watch spoke reported that the new policies stipulate a limit of five livestock per household member and require the rest of the livestock to be slaughtered or allowed to die. This compares with a usual holding in the region of anything up to a hundred or more yaks, sheep, and goats per household member. Other interviewees noted that they were allowed to keep 30 percent of their herds. One 29 year-old man, K.Y., explained: "The government sets a limit of cattle numbers per household member and if you exceed that limit, you have to kill off the extra.... The village leader comes to check, and there is no way that you could hide from him..."

Some interviewees told Human Rights Watch that people are free to sell the animals for higher prices to private butchers, while others report that they must accept the fixed prices from government slaughterhouses. In principle, the proceeds from the sale of livestock are to be spent on investing in new urban livelihoods, such as shops or vehicles.

According to H.D., from Tulan (Dulan) county, Tsonub (Haixi) prefecture, in Qinghai province: "It was said that from this year all the livestock of the Guri township herders would be destroyed, and they would be moved to that place and turned into town dwellers. The county and township governments announced many things about it, and the [Tibetan herders] are very worried ...Those households who have livestock were told they have to fence their pasture and can keep only 30 percent of their animals under a campaign launched in 2004, and that is causing much hardship. The rest of their animals must be sold to the slaughterhouse."

Yak meat

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