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Insurance for the Himalayan Yaks against Climate change? Something new yet crucial for Himalayan Sustainability

It not always about us Humans. Facing the threat of Climate change and its consequent natural disasters, the Himalayan Yaks have been insured, in an endeavor that is the firsts of its kinds.

The National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY) at Dirang in Kameng District, Arunachal Pradesh along with the insurance to be provided by National Insurance Company Ltd, will help the Yak owners against risks posed to its life.

NRCY was established by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1989 to concentrate on the betterment of Yaks.

These include weather or human-made mishaps like transportation, diseases, surgeries and even strikes or riots across the major Himalayan belt.

The insurance will provide a financial security and assistance in times of need, to the vulnerable yak-rearing communities in the remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.

Why the Yaks have to be insured?

“More than 500 yaks died in a single spell of heavy rainfall in northern Sikkim in 2019, leading to a heavy financial burden on the owners,” according to NRCY Director.

Also, the number of yaks across the country, as per a report that made headlines 4 years ago, have severely declined between 2012 and 2019 alone i.e. 24.7%.

“The countrywide population trend shows that yak population has been decreasing at an alarming rate.” The animals have a tendency to survive only in conditions around 7,000 feet above the sea level.

The Yak population across India is only concentrated in the extreme North and is currently about 58,000 in total.

There are about 26,000 in the combined Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, to be followed by 24,000 in Arunachal Pradesh.

Rest include Sikkim which has 5,000, Himachal Pradesh has 2,000 and about 1,000 in West Bengal and Uttarakhand.

Scientist at NRCY tells: “Further, climate change and inexplicable changes in the weather pattern have been reported from the yak rearing areas throughout the country.”

“Rise in temperature forces the yak to go higher, which gives us an indication of fluctuations in the weather”.

Yaks are very valuable and prove to be a lifeline for pastoral nomads sustaining in the higher reaches of Himalayan region. They can survive the colder and harsh temperatures where other bovines will not survive for long.

Himalayan Yaks have larger heart and lungs along with a greater capacity to transport dissolved oxygen throughout the body.

Domesticated Yak Distribution in the Himalayan belt

Undertaking their grazing activities, yaks play a crucial role in nutrient recycling and generating intermediate levels of disturbance in their immediate ecosystems.

They play a multi-dimensional socio-cultural-economic role for their owning pastoral communities those survive on its hair, wool, dairy etc. to earn a livelihood.

Insurance and Claims: what’s the process and pre-requisites involved?

For getting their Yaks insured, owners will be needed to get their yaks ear-tagged and give a proper specific description.

And at the time of claiming the insurance, a completed claim form will have to be submitted along with the death certificate from a veterinary practitioner, a post-mortem report and the ear tag that was placed in the initial run.

The benefit of this scheme has been capped at only five animals per beneficiary per household.

However, if a beneficiary wants to insure more than five animals, he/she can choose to pay the full premium without availing any benefit of the subsidy.

As per the rule, there shall be a waiting period too, for asserting claims.

“A 15-day waiting period to claim the amount is mandatory, that is, death of an animal due to some disease within 15 days from the commencement of the risk is not payable”, explains NRCY.

NRCY is quite hopeful that the insurance cover of this kind, can help significantly in yak conservation and provide an impetus to sustainable yak husbandry.

Alaina Ali Beg

I am a lover of all arts and therefore can dream myself in all places where the World takes me. I am an avid animal lover and firmly believes that Nature is the true sorcerer.

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