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The Yak Doctor is In

Posted on: December 10th, 2009 by admin

AAC member Lance Fox from Wisconsin climbed Mt. Everest from the Nepal side last spring, summiting on May 21. But that wasn’t his only accomplishment in the Khumbu. Along with his climbing gear, the veterinarian shipped over deworming supplies to help treat the local people’s yaks and yak hybrids. Fox taught Phurba Tashi Sherpa, a 16-time Everest summiter and the sirdar of Fox’s Himex expedition, to administer the Safeguard dewormer, and supplied enough of the product for two doses for 200 animals. Expedition leader Russell Brice reported later in the year that these animals began producing more milk, suggesting they were healthier because of the treatments.

Fox said it’s very likely that the Khumbu draft animals had never received veterinary care. Next year, he hopes to greatly expand the treatment program.

“Our hope is to return to the Khumbu next spring to deworm around 2,500 to 3,000 yaks and teach more of the local people how to do it (and why), while leaving another round of Safeguard for them to apply a follow-up dose four to six weeks later,” Fox said. “If funding is secured, we have identified seven villages along the Everest base-camp trekking route to hold, for lack of a better term, yak clinics.

“My long-term hope is that the program will expand not only to become a yearly endeavor but also expand in numbers of animals treated, and perhaps look at additional health-care choices for these wonderful animals,” Fox added. “I could also see the program expand to help the horses and even dogs in the Khumbu.”

You can learn more about Fox’s Everest climb at his website. And here’s a short video showing Fox treating the Sherpas’ beasts at Everest Base Camp.

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