Losing Horizon-- the Changpas of Ladakh


Known as Changpas, or people who migrated from the Tibetan district of ‘Changthang, a very special community resides-- or rather moves around-- the dry mountains of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas. Rearing goats is their only way of life and for these soft but hairy creatures these shepherds migrate from place to place looking for pastures. The community is rich because their pets yield 'pashmina' wool--a valuable commodity.  Once these nomads had little use for money as they rarely strayed even to a secondary town like Leh. They were more used to living by raw nature—using yaks as transport, using yak skin for tents, using yaks’ fat for fuel. But with global warming their landscape is changing. The rivers are either drying up or are changing courses. The Changpas no longer can predict with certainly that they will have grass at a certain place at a certain time. Being excellent adopters the Changpas are finally taking up the rules of contemporary living. They are sending their children to residential schools, and are investing in concrete homes in cities. In a few years there will remain no caravan to cross the brown horizon of Ladakh.