PR - PASTORAL FARMING ON THE QINGHAI-TIBET PLATEAU
We report on pastoral farming systems in Henan County (altitude 3600 metres) within the Sanjiangyuan (Three-River Headwaters) Region of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Our information comes from in-depth interviews of 13 pastoral farming families, plus discussions with key local informants. Traditional nomadic pastoral farming systems are in transition to semi-nomadic, with permanent housing and associated animal shelters for much of the year but still with grassland tent-living by pastoral farming families in summer. Yaks and Tibetan sheep are the dominant livestock. Livestock products in Henan include meat, milk, butter and cheese (qula) from yaks, and meat, wool and skins from sheep. Yak dung is the main source of fuel for cooking and heating. Dung is also a commercial product. Yaks calve in spring, typically having their first calf at four years of age and then calve every second year. Sheep lamb in autumn, typically having their first lamb at three or four years of age. Predation by wolves is a major issue with sheep. Overall animal productivity is low. Sustainability issues are a major concern due to ongoing nutrient removal from dung and animal products, combined with high rodent plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) populations and general overgrazing.
Keywords: Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, semi-nomadic pastoral farming systems, Henan County, yaks, Tibetan sheep