NOMADS OF HIMALAYA
Transhumance with Korzoks people
In India, on the high Himalayan plateau of Ladakh, much further away from the last village, live men and women: the Changpa nomads.
There, the altitude is around five thousand metres high. The climatic conditions are extreme. Cold, wind and snow make the Changpa nomads’ daily life very rough.
Today, among the four groups of Ladakhi nomads, only Korzoks keep on moving as they have done for centuries, by loading their animals. The other three still perform also transhumance every six or eight weeks but with motorized vehicles: trucks, jeeps and cars. They have changed their route in order to establish their camp nearer to roads that are more and more present in the area. The Korzoks, themselves, have not changed their routes and still move according to an ancestral path that allows goats, sheep and yaks to have enough to eat. Their camps are located far from roads and they load kitchens, food and tents on animals at each transhumance. On the day before departing, men have to find yaks left to roam free in the different valleys. As they do every evening at dusk, the nomads assemble their goats and sheep near them. Herds cross each other and the head of families is responsible to tie yaks upside down in order to load them the next morning.
Eight hundred Ladakhi nomads shared this region in the late 90s. Now, they are no more than about two hundred with forty Korzoks perpetuating a millennium knowledge and tradition.
Most children go to school for nine months a year in Samdo or at the TCV (Tibetan Children Village) school in Choglamsar, next to the capital Leh. After tasting comfort - quite relative – of the boarding school, only few of them wish to return to nomadic life. For how many more years yaks caravans will keep on travelling on the high arid plateaus of Changthang?
+ photographs of Nomads of Himalaya - Full text available on request.