, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 497-504

Pastoral Nomads of the Indian Changthang: Production System, Landuse and Socioeconomic Changes

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Introduction

The Changthang region in the Indian Trans-Himalayan area of Ladakh represents the western extension of the Tibetan Plateau, an important highland grazing ecosystem (Goldstein and Beall, 1990). The Changpa, nomadic pastoralists who originally migrated from Tibet in the eighth century a.d. (Jina, 1995), graze the rangelands of Changthang. The Changpa are Buddhists and share cultural and linguistic affinities with Tibet (Rizvi, 1996). They lost access to several traditional pastures on the Tibetan side when India and China fought a war in the region in 1962 (Ahmed, 1997). Around the same time, the Indian side saw a heavy influx of Tibetan refugees (popularly known as TRs), who, like the Changpa, rear a variety of livestock including horse, yak, sheep and goat. These livestock types are adapted to the hostile and marginal pastures of the region, and provide a range of products and services. The domestic goats of Changthang reportedly produce the finest cashmere wool or Pashmina