Tibetans call Nomads "Lord of Cattle", Tibet 2012
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Photo: It was very quiet, only the yak was grunting.
Contrary to popular belief, yak and their manure have little to no detectable odor when maintained appropriately in pastures or paddocks with adequate access to forage and water. Yak wool is naturally odor resistant.
Yak physiology is well adapted to high altitudes, having larger lungs and heart than cattle found at lower altitudes, as well as greater capacity for transporting oxygen through their blood due to the persistence of foetal haemoglobin throughout life. Conversely, yaks do not thrive at lower altitudes, and begin to suffer from heat exhaustion above about 15 °C (59 °F). Further adaptations to the cold include a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, and an almost complete lack of functional sweat glands.
Yaks are highly friendly in nature and can easily be trained. There has been very little documented aggression from yaks towards human beings, although mothers can be extremely protective of their young and will bluff charge if they feel threatened.
Domesticated yaks are kept primarily for their milk, fiber and meat, and as beasts of burden. Their dried dung is an important fuel, used all over Tibet, and is often the only fuel available on the high treeless Tibetan plateau.