Documenting Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Changpas of Korzok Tegazung

Date 2019

Location Leh and Korzok, Ladakh

One of the critical interfaces of pastoral nomadic interaction with the landscape is seen in the traditional ecological knowledge systems associated with the various plant species of the grasslands on which livestock graze.  Korzok falling under the alpine zone is dominated by annual and perennial herbs, followed by few stunted shrubs and bushes. Indigenous plants are also used in traditional medicine of the amchi system (Sowa rigpa).

Documentation of this TEK was undertaken in 2019. Prior to the field survey, a review of secondary literature was undertaken on fodder and medicinal plants of Changthang. Field discussion and transect walks with Korzok shepherds were conducted to identify fodder plants for different species of livestock as well as their seasonal distributions. The mixed herd composition of goats (rama), yak, sheep(lug), horses (Sta)and donkeys (bumbu) enables the herders to optimise forage options on the Changthang plains, with animals choosing different types of fodder plants. Nine plant species belonging to six families were identified in the pastures providing the main source of fodder for the livestock.

Field interviews were carried out with the amchis in Korzok to understand the variety of medicinal plants sourced from the Korzok area. A total of 28 medicinal plant species were listed belonging to 16 families. The leaves, flowers and roots are the most commonly used parts of the plant. The collection of medicinal plants begins at the end of August and continues through September. A prayer to the lha residing on the east side of the mountain is made before the amchi leave for collection spending several days in the mountains. The area around the Mentok kangri glacier provides some of the most important medicinal plants. The herbs are cleaned and dried depending on the type of ailments they are used to cure. Herbs used to cure cold disorders are dried in the sun while those for warm ailments are dried in the shade. Once they are dried they are mixed in specific proportions to treat a variety of disorders.

The project was supported by the Shrikant Joshi Endowment Fund managed by Keystone Foundation.