Nomadic pastoralism in the Aru basin of Tibet's Chang Tang


  • Marius W. Næss
  • Dondrup Lhagyal
  • Drolma Yangzom
  • Per Mathiesen
  • Joseph L. Fox
  • Bård J. Bårdsen



nomadic pastoralism, Tibet, Aru basin, cashmere wool, Chang Tang Nature Preserve, China, hunting, livestock herding


Nomadic pastoralists live at the northern extent of human habitation within the ca. 5000 m elevation Aru basin, in the nortwestern part of the Chang Tang Nature Preserve, Tibet. These nomads herd primarily sheep and goats, a lesser number of yaks, and a few horses. Goats are increasing in importance because of the value of cashmere wool in national and international markets. Although sheep wool production is greater per animal than for the cashmere goats, the price obtained for its wool is much lower. Still, households keep more sheep than goats, primarily because sheep meat is preferred for consumption and sheep wool is important for the nomads' own use. The Aru nomads have traditionally depended on hunting to compensate for livestock lost to predators and unpredictable climatic phenomena such as blizzards. The prohibition of hunting in the reserve from 1993 has apparently resulted in a lowering of their standard of living, even with an overall rise in cashmere prices. According to the nomads, without hunting they have thus lost a safety measure important during years with heavy livestock losses. Conservation related development initiatives in the reserve should address this issue.




How to Cite

Næss, M. W., Lhagyal, D., Yangzom, D., Mathiesen, P., Fox, J. L., & Bårdsen, B. J. (2004). Nomadic pastoralism in the Aru basin of Tibet’s Chang Tang. Rangifer, 24(4), 39–46.

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