Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/214

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

192

MORE PARTICULARS OF THE YAK.

find for repose, or seek the shelter of some cliff where they can avoid the sun's rays, preferring to lie on the snow, or if there be none, on the bare ground, in which they scrape a hollow with their hoofs.

Their favourite resorts are thickly strewn with their dung, which is the only fuel in these deserts, and without which the journey across Tibet would be impracticable, for there are no bushes of any kind in this country.

The wild yaks require plenty of water, and their numerous tracks and droppings near the warm springs prove the frequency of their visits to them; when water is unobtainable they slake their thirst with snow. But in summer they are at no loss, for besides an abundance of streams and springs, plenty of rain water collects in the pools, by the side of which grass is abundant, and the yak, by no means a dainty feeder, after growing thin during winter, becomes fat again in autumn; this is particularly the case with young bulls and single cows.

The breeding time, which is in September, lasts a whole month, and then the character of the yak undergoes a complete change. At this season the bulls wander day and night over the plains in search of mates, and engage in sanguinary battles with one another. These fights must often be of a desperate kind, judging from the fact that nearly all those that we shot in winter bore the marks of wounds inflicted in these amorous duels, some of the scars being very large; one bull that we shot had one of