The Domestic Yak (Bos grunniens) and the Wild Yak (Bos mutus) are large, long-haired bovids, similar to cattle and bison. The Yak is found in the Himalayas, Mongolia, and Russia. Bos grunniens means grunting ox, and Bos mutus means mute (silent) ox.
The Yak is an ungulate because it has a cloven hoof, like cows. It looks like a hairy cow. Their shaggy hair keeps them warm, because they live in cold climates.
Wild Yaks are black or dark brown, whereas domestic Yaks can be rust-brown, grey, and cream. The Yak has small ears and a wide forehead, with smooth dark-coloured horns. It has a short neck with humped shoulders.
Males, called bulls, have horns that extend from the sides of their head and curve forward. Their horns are 48-99 centimetres (19-39 inches) long. Females, called cows, have smaller horns, from 27-64 centimetres (11-25 inches) long that are more upright.
The tail is long and looks like a horse’s tail (long and hairy) instead of a cow’s tail (with a tuft of hair at the end). rather than tufted like the tails of cattle or bison.
Yaks can grow to 105–138 centimetres (41–54 inches) tall.
Yaks make a grunt sound instead of a moo sound (like cows).
Cows are pregnant for 257-270 days, before giving birth to one calf. The calf can walk within ten minutes, and then stays close to its mother. Calves become independent after about one year.
Yaks may live for more than twenty years in captivity, and for less in the wild.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM