A Tibetan nomad and his dead livestock in the Jangthang region of Ladakh, north India. (Photo/CRO Ladakh)
DHARAMSHALA, February 26: Tibetan nomads living in the higher reaches of Ladakh, north India, are currently reeling under severe cold conditions after heavy snowfall killed thousands of their livestock.
The Jangthang region in Ladakh, where Tibetan nomadic communities graze their goats and sheep, has received unprecedented snowfall in the months of January and February.
Speaking to Phayul, the Chief Representative Officer of Sonamling Tibetan Settlement in Leh, Dhundup Tashi said the devastating snowfall, up to three feet in many areas, have killed around 5000 livestock.
“Tibetan nomadic communities, which depend on their livestock to scrape their living, have lost around 5000 goats and sheep till now,” Tashi said. “Because of the continuing severe weather conditions and inaccessibility to certain areas, we fear that the numbers could rise.”
He noted that although the district authorities, Indian army, and the state government have provided relief, saving the livestock from starving to death would still be a mammoth task.
"Living in their tents in the extreme conditions, Tibetan nomads have received extra food items and medicines from the Indian authorities,” he said. "Fodder for the remaining livestock has also been provided."
However, Tashi contended that it would still be weeks before the snow melts and many areas continue to remain inaccessible. Making matters worse, weather forecasts for the month of March predict freezing conditions with intermittent snowfall in the region.
“There are nine nomadic areas under our jurisdiction and the most affected are Kakshung, Goyul, Chumur, Hanley, Sumdho, and Nyoma,” Tashi told Phayul over phone. “But we are most concerned over Kharnak, which remains cut off due to heavy snowfall and we have no information on how severe the condition is in that region.”
An elderly Tibetan nomadic woman and her dead livestock in Jangthang region of Ladakh, north India. (Photo/CRO Ladakh)
According to official estimates, more than 1500 Tibetans live the Jangthang areas.
The CRO added that the financial assistance provided by the Department of Home of the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration is most likely to reach his office in a few days.
Earlier the Executive Councilor for Animal & Sheep Husbandry of the state of Jammu and Kashmir had written to CM Omar Abdullah informing him about the situation in Jangthang and requesting funds for the purchase of feed and fodder.