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A unique system of short-distance vertical transhumance pastoralism has evolved in the Trans-Himalayan region of Zanskar, Ladakh in response to short summer cropping season and vast alpine pasturelands. Cattle are taken to highland pastures for three-and-a-half month in summer season and kept in temporary settlements locally called as doksa. The study investigated the herding practices, migration pattern, livestock production and livelihood dependence on highland pastoralism. Purposive sampling technique was administered to withdraw the sample of 6 doksas and the data were collected from both secondary and primary sources. Results revealed that 31 herders in the 6 doksas possessed a total of 794 milk producing zhomos. The doksas produced 3 lakh litres of milk, 18000 kg of butter and the same amount of dried protein cake (chhurpey). The herders earned incomes of ₹ 122500.00 and ₹ 59375.00 by trading 300-350 kg of butter and 450-500 kg of chhurpey, respectively with employment opportunities of 3100 woman-days/year. The poor living conditions at doksa and unavailability of alternative economic opportunities for women herders has threatened its continuation for cash generation, food and livelihood security and socioeconomic development. Therefore, livelihood diversification using alternative resources is imperative to keep pace with current development and future challenges.
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