A nomadic community at 4,500 meters near Horchu’ka in Sichuan where members of Ajo and Omu’s clan live during the summer months. Tibet is made up of three regions: U-Tsang, the formerly independent Tibet Autonomous Region, and the eastern regions of Kham and Amdo. Amdo lies in China’s Qinghai and western Gansu provinces, while Kham is in western Sichuan.
Tibet – Been There

Keep your slingshot ready for wolves

Photo by Jeff Fuchs

Tibet – Been There Keep your slingshot ready for wolves

I climb slowly into the strangely snowless mountains with Chamba, an 11-year-old nomad who bounds up the 45-degree slope. He offers me a lollipop – a treat from his father.

Jeff Fuchs
Jeff Fuchs Explorer

Like all in his community Chamba wears only a full-length handmade robe, with a meter-long leather slingshot slung over his shoulder. The sheepskin and wool clothes protect and retain heat like few materials on the planet.

On his head is an ornate fur cap that marks him clearly as a nomad. As he walks, he slings rocks at the distant yak with menacing accuracy. While effective in herding yaks, the slingshots are also an essential defense against wolves, and no one leaves the tent without one.

The wolves act in unison to split flocks of sheep into groups, when one “kill team” will go in and simply kill as many as they can, at which point the remaining wolves move in to gorge themselves.

They know they have limited time before the nomads arrive in force, on horseback or motorbike, having grabbed any guns available. They tend to leave humans alone, although rogue wolves will try for children if they can.

Roaming in large packs, the cunning wolves are the only major predators left in much of the Himalayas and, because of an ominous lack of snowfall, their hunting grounds have widened immeasurably. “A few weeks ago, a wolf-pack ripped a rider off his motorcycle and consumed him not far away from here,” says Chamba.

Above us, the undertakers of the sky, vultures, cruise in their monotonous circles and monitor our progress, and he studies the sky for telltale signs of a death or kill.

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Indefatigable and treated with a kind of reverence at times, yak (sok in nomadic dialect) are the undisputed transporters through the mountains. When nomads migrate they pile all of their worldly belongings on the backs of their most reliable yak and simply move. The Tibetan word ”gyag” gives us the English word yak. Photo by Jeff Fuchs

Jeff Fuchs

Jeff Fuchs

Nikon D90

Aperture
ƒ/8
Exposure
1/80
ISO
250
Focal
105 mm

Indefatigable and treated with a kind of reverence at times, yak (sok in nomadic dialect) are the undisputed transporters through the mountains. When nomads migrate they pile all of their worldly belongings on the backs of their most reliable yak and simply move. The Tibetan word ”gyag” gives us the English word yak.

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