|Mar. 27, 2018 -- Hei Ma Quan River Village in Songshan Township, Tianzhu County, northwest China's Gansu Province sits at more than 3,000 meters above sea level. It is the core protection area for white yaks in China.
61-year-old Drolma Tseten and his son Lhamo Damdrol look after more than 100 white yaks in the deep grassland, where you "need to walk half an hour to get to the nearest neighbor".
Drolma Tseten has looked after white yaks his whole life. When he was a child, he would accompany his father and grandfather to herd their white yaks from place to place on the grassland.
Today, they no longer live in tents like before, and the bright glass rooms in the homes on the pasture are extremely warm.
The yaks are herded every day, and Drolma Tseten's son no longer uses his footsteps and voice to guide the herd as his father before, instead, he drives a motorcycle, disappearing into the mountains in a flash.
Drolma Tseten said that the white yak has changed, so does himself and his family.
"In the past, the white yak was the 'meal ticket' for the entire family, and a lifetime was spent dealing with yaks in order to take care of the young and old in the family," he said. "Now, the most important thing about rearing white yaks is protecting this species. Otherwise, after a few decades, they might become extinct."
Drolma Tseten said that his own family has changed as well. Living conditions throughout the Tibetan-inhabited area in the province have improved, and herders have all settled into modern lives.
Even in the grasslands you can find Internet, TV, washing machines, and refrigerators. A few days ago, Drolma Tseten's son even discussed the prospect of buying a drone, so they could "watch the yaks without having to leave home."
The changes that have come to the white yak are also linked with the rise of tourism. White yaks have become a certain experience favored by tourists, and "orders for white yaks" have come in from scenic areas all over the country.
The white yak is a rare and precious kind of yak and is a national key protected livestock species and it only lives in Tianzhu County. Six townships in Tianzhu County including Songshan, Xidatan, and Huazangsi are recognized as the national-level Tianzhu White Yak Protection Zone.
Editor: Ana Wu