Dropka – Nomads of Tibet | DW Documentary

The lives of Tibet’s Drokpa nomads revolve around their yaks, which provide them with of food, fuel and a livelihood for their families. But the breakneck pace of social and political change in China is threatening their traditional way of life with extinction.

Asia’s mightiest rivers arise in the mountains of Tibet and almost half of humanity depends on their waters for survival. Tibet’s Drokpa nomads have been roaming these landscapes for thousands of years. From time immemorial, their existence has been closely linked to nature, providing fodder for their yak herds, which in turn supply them with milk, butter, meat and fuel. But, in recent decades, the once lush meadows and pastures have turned into deserts. In addition, the Chinese government has restricted grazing areas traditionally used by Drokpa families and reallocated them arbitrarily – a disaster for those who are now trying to feed their yaks on the edge of the desert. The documentary accompanies this large nomadic community over an extended period and registers the profound upheavals in its life. Its protagonists – Tamku, a single, teenage mother; Dhongya, a respected cattle breeder; Yithan, a concerned mother; and Magyuk, probably one of her family’s last true nomads- talk about their fears and doubts, their coping strategies and their desire for emancipation. The result is a portrait of generations of a nomadic tribe facing great challenges on many fronts.

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