A freighter full of Yaks

Flying to new green pastures. Image: Silk Way West Airlines

Weighing in at between 225 kg (small female) to 585 kg (large male), the total weight (undisclosed in the press release) of the 116 yaks recently transported, must have been pretty impressive. An unusual shipment that Silk Way West Airlines was selected to carry, as it is not every day that such large and hairy animals board a plane. Though the airline has seen its fair share of extraordinary animal shipments, including the transport of alpacas, kangaroos, European bison, alongside more regular horse and dog shipments.
This mission was on behalf of the Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Agriculture, which purchased the yaks from Kyrgyzstan as part of its breeding program in Kalbajar. Kyrgyzstan’s native cattle breed has been domesticated and raised there over the past hundred years or so. Yaks are characterized by their undemanding nature, their adaptability to conditions in extreme climates; and the fact that they live outdoors all year round and can thrive at altitudes of up to 4.500 meters. Their use is very versatile – not only do they provide basic nutrition such as milk and meat, but also leather and wool for clothes, tools and housing. Kyrgyzstan has long supported yak husbandry, and Azerbaijan, too, is now seeking to promote and support this type of sustainable agricultural development.
The yaks, vital to the agricultural biodiversity of Azerbaijan, traveled over 2,000 kilometers aboard a Boeing 747-400F from Bishkek Manas International Airport to Ganja Airport. To ensure the highest welfare standards, the yaks were accommodated in custom-designed crates that provided protection from injury and stress. The aircraft was equipped with advanced ventilation and temperature control systems to maintain an optimal environment throughout the journey,” the release described. Once at destination, the animals continued their journey by truck to Kalbajar, where they will “enhance the genetic diversity of the region’s livestock.” Vugar Mammadov, Vice-President CIS and Central Asia at Silk Way West Airlines, commented: “We are honored to support sustainable agriculture and biodiversity through expert handling and transportation of live animals. This collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture underscores our commitment to enhancing local ecosystems and contributing to global sustainability efforts.”

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