Changpa Tribe

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Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk and Leh Apex Body (LAB) decided to call off the Pashmina border march aimed at highlighting the plight of the Changpa nomadic tribes who are losing thousands of square kilometres of their land “due to Chinese incursion.

About Changpa Tribe

  • The Changpa, or Champa, are semi-nomadic people found mainly in the Changtang plateau of southeastern Ladakh.
  • A smaller number resides in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region in China.
  • They share linguistic and cultural affinities with Tibetans.
  • They are high-altitude pastoralists, raising mainly yaks and goats. They live at an average altitude of 4,500 metresabove sea level. 
  • Religion: All Changpa families profess Tibetan Buddhism as their religion.
    • They can be identified by their conical yak-skin tents called reboo.
    • Each reboo invariably accommodates the family deity, and a picture of their spiritual head, in most cases, the Dalai Lama.

Semi-nomadic Lifestyle

  • The Changpa who live nomadic lives are known as Phalpa, while those who have settled down in fixed locations are called Fangpa
  • For many Changpas, rearing of animals and consuming and selling their produce (milk and its products, hair, and meat) is the only means of livelihood.
  • They rear the highly pedigreed and prized Changra goats (Capra Hircus) that yield the rare Pashmina (Cashmere) fibre. It is the finest fibre of all goat hair.
  • Their Buddhist belief does not allow them to kill animals for meat. It is only when animals die a natural death that the carcasses can be used for meat and hide, which the Changpas use to line their huts and make garments. 

In 1989, the Changpa were granted official status in India as a scheduled tribe.

Q1: What is yak?

The Wild yak (Bos mutus) is a large, wild cattle native to the Himalayas.Wild yaks are among the largest bovids and are second only to the gaur in shoulder height.Yaks can live at altitudes up to 20,000 feet--the highest of any land-dwelling mammal.Wild yaks are social animals that live in herds.Domestic yaks far outnumber wild ones and are bred for their tractability for plowing and threshing, high milk production, meat, hides, and fur.

Source: Climate activist Sonam Wangchuk, Leh Apex Body call off march to border