This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
by Dorji Bidha, Drukgyel Farmers
Its 5am in the morning and Aum Kezo gets up to check on her yak calves, endangered by attacks from snow leopards; it is freezing cold. Aum Kezo is in her 60s and stays with her daughter Sonam. They have hundreds of yaks. In winter when the river shrinks and the days get shorter, they come down to warmer places.
This summer, just like every year, Aum Kezo herds her yaks at Napjimbalu, a place that evokes powerful emotions with its breathtaking landscape. Indeed, she says listening to the silence and allowing the snow-clad mountain to soak into her bones increases her life expectancy.
Romanticism versus reality
Our highlanders are often featured on the pages of tourism brochures and on postcards, however the reality of their lives is hard: losing calves to wild animals, harsh and dry winter days, and wild animals attacking them at night and stealing belongings from their open tents.
They have to sit watch on their herds from dusk till dawn, by which time the bears have already snuck into their tents and taken away their food. Many times they have to survive the night with a cup of tea since preparing a more substantial dinner will deplete their firewood resources.
Bhutan Network sent four dining tents (worth more than 120,000 NU) and four gas stoves to our nomads, to ensure that our highlanders’ food is safe and also they don’t have to depend on firewood to prepare meals, especially tea.
Usually in the mountains every time nomads want to warm their food, they are solely dependent on logs and wood since it’s their main fuel. Now they can easily heat their food on the stove and also get a good night’s sleep, since they received modern tents with nice, secure zips.