THE SHEPERDS OF NYIMALING
Today, Ladakh, a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of India, is home to only 1,200 nomadic pastoralists, representing less than one per cent of the Leh District population: the Kharnak. They are exclusively pastoral people, and possess large herds of yaks and ponies and immense flocks of sheep and goats, the latter almost entirely the beautiful ‘shawl goat’, from the undergrowth at the base of the long hair of which the fine Kashmir shawls are made. We trace their origins back to ancient Tibetan nomadic tribes.
Because there is only one growing season (from early June to mid-September), Ladakh’s nomadic pastoralists have no reason to migrate far over the year and rely on horizontal migration. Like nomads in Tibet, they shift camp to exploit various pastures in order to preserve the supply of grass.