Scientific Name

Bos grunniens


The yak is a large, horned bovid. They generally have shaggy brown or black fur. Both male and female yaks have a pronounced hump over their shoulders.

Yaks are well-adapted to living in mountainous areas; they have long fur to keep them warm and large lungs to help them to absorb oxygen at high altitudes.

Due to their strength, yaks are often used to transport goods (and people) across mountain passes. Farmers also use yaks to draw ploughs.

Yaks breed in the summer. As the rut (mating season) approaches, males become increasingly more aggressive towards one another and will often fight to establish dominance.

Females usually breed for the first time when they are 3 or 4 years old. The gestation period in yaks is between 257 and 270 days. Females typically give birth to a single calf. The calf is able to walk within minutes of being born but does not become fully independent until it is over a year old. 


Yaks are herbivores. They mostly eat grass.

Size Fact

Male yaks and water buffalos can exceed 2 meters tall.

Food Fact

Like cows, yaks have been reared for their milk, cheese and meat.

Fun Fact

In Tibet, yak dung is used as fuel to heat people’s houses!

IUCN Red list

Domesticated yaks are not endangered. However, their close relative Bos mutus is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Where do I live?

Yaks are native to Asia. They live in the mountainous Himalaya region.

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