Written by fountaininkseries

Of yaks and men The nomadic lives of the Drokpa in Tibet's grasslands.

Of yaks and men The nomadic lives of by fountaininkseries

BY RITAYAN MUKHERJEE

Tibet’s nomadic mountain people known as Ndrogba or Drokpa occupy the higher reaches of the pleateau, living at heights beyond 14,000 feet. They are found in all three traditional regions of Tibet: Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang. They have an estimated population of 2 million and live in tents made of yak wool and move two to three times a year, following the seasons. Most are now only semi-nomadic. Their centuries-old way of life is under threat from China’s “resettlement” policy under which many families have been relocated to permanent colonies at the edge of cities.

These nomads live on the very edge of ecosystems and their every movement is dictated by the needs of their herds. Their lifestyles are delicately balanced on the changing seasons. Their world is a prime example of sustainable pastoralism. At this point they are vulnerable to socio-politico-economic pressures as well as changing climate patterns.

Ritayan Mukherjee is a Kolkata-based photographer working on a long-term project to document the lives of nomadic communities on the Tibetan plateau.

The photo story from the July 2017 edition of Fountain Ink.

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