Brokpa Yak Herders of Bhutan: A Study in Pastoral Livelihood Patterns, Transhumance and “Drukor”

  • Raghubir ChandEmail author
Part of the Perspectives on Geographical Marginality book series (PGEO)


Brokpas are one of the most significant semi-nomadic indigenous people of Bhutan. Surviving on transhumance , herding and trade, they represent the initial mode of human adjustment with nature. They live in a harsh mountain environment and survive by their ecologically adaptive strategies to many kinds of environmental constraints. Altitude creates vertical zones of resources which range from sub-tropical forest to sub-alpine forest and alpine pastures. Brokpas have therefore developed a symbiotic relationship with these forest and pasturelands which provide them with a perennial source of livelihood and sustenance . Their occupational patterns as yak herders and sellers of milk products, their social magnitude and their persistence as distinct entities in Bhutan are immensely significant. The main focus of this paper is to bring to light the ecological mode of adaptation and changing livelihood strategy of the Brokpas of Bhutan. This study is based on the primary information at the household level for which data have been collected from 210 households from 13 sample villages of Brokpa habitat in January 2010. In the present sample, about 54.76% families are practicing transhumance while “drukor ” or brukor which roughly means moving around for grains to exchange with their dairy products during winter is still essential economically.


Pastoral livelihood Transhumance “Drukor” “Nepos” Gross National Happiness Merak Sakteng Yak herders 



The author is deeply grateful to Mr. Sangey Khandu and Mr. Leki Khandu, B. A. (Hons) Geography student of batch 2009–2010, Sherubtse College Kanglun, Royal University of Bhutan, who collected field information for the present research in 2010. This work could not have been undertaken without the field support extended by them during his tenure as the Colombo Plan Professor from India to the Royal Government of Bhutan from 2008 to 2010. His sincere thanks to Dr. Pankaj Thapa, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Regional Planning, Sherubtse College Kanglun, Royal University of Bhutan for cartographic assistance.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, DSB CampusKumaun UniversityNainitalIndia

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