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In a first, Himalayan yaks to be insured

National Research Centre on Yak in Arunachal Pradesh’s Dirang terms it a landmark development

The high-altitude yak, feeling the climate change heat across the Himalayan belt, will now be insured.

The National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY) at Dirang in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district has tied up with the National Insurance Company Ltd. for insuring their livestock.

“The countrywide population trend shows that yak population has been decreasing at an alarming rate. Further, climate change and inexplicable changes in the weather pattern have been reported from the yak rearing areas throughout the country,” NRCY director Dr. Mihir Sarkar said.

The insurance policy will shield the yak owners against the risks posed by weather calamities, diseases, in-transit mishaps, surgical operations and strikes or riots.

“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,” Dr. Sarkar said.

A four-year-old report said the number of yaks across the country declined by almost 24.7% between 2012 and 2019.

Yak population in India

The total yak population in India is about 58,000. The Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir have some 26,000, followed by 24,000 in Arunachal Pradesh, 5,000 in Sikkim, 2,000 in Himachal Pradesh and about 1,000 in West Bengal and Uttarakhand.

Dr. Sarkar termed it “a landmark development in providing financial security to yak rearing communities in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh.”

According to the policy, the owners would have to get their yaks ear-tagged and provide a proper description in order to get their animals insured.

For claims, the owner has to submit the completed claim form, death certificate from the veterinary practitioner, the post-mortem report and the ear tag.

“Also, there has to be a 15-day waiting period to claim the amount, that is, death of an animal due to some disease within 15 days from the commencement of the risk is not payable,” the NRCY said in a statement.

Scientists at the NRCY, established in 1989 by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said the woolly yaks were indicators of change in temperature on the mountains. The animal finds it difficult to tolerate the conditions at below 7,000 feet above sea level.

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

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