“Nandoma, syo, syo,” Nima Fungju Sherpa calls out to one of her chauri gais who is grazing in the fields below. Nandoma obediently follows his owner’s voice. Slowly all 20 of Nima’s herd make their way back to the shed. “Nandoma is naughty. He kicks me sometimes while milking, that’s why I keep his legs tied,” says the 37-year-old farmer.
On average a chauri gives two litres of milk, which Nima uses to make butter and churpi. She charges Rs 650 per kilo for the butter and Rs 400 for a kilo of churpi. With the income she makes from the trade, the mother of three manages to run the household and send her children to boarding school in Kathmandu.
Like most others living in the high Himalayas of neighbouring Taplejung district, Dorji Limbu is also a chauri owner. In six months he earns Rs 150,000.
Chauri is the offspring of a cow and male yak. The females are called jomu and cost anywhere up to Rs 40,000. The males, known as phomjo, fetch Rs 80,000 and are used for carrying heavy loads. Elderly yaks and chauris are sold for meat.
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