Although they have been domesticated for at least 2 000 years, domestic and wild yaks are still considered to be the same species. A wild male can stand up to 2 m (6.5 ft.) at the shoulder and weigh around 1 t (1.1 tn.). Females weigh about a third less.
Throughout history, the domesticated yak of central Asia has provided Tibetan herders with wool, leather, meat, milk and cheese. Yaks are used by humans as beasts of burden. Their dung is used as fuel and fertilizer.
Domesticated yaks are abundant, but the larger wild yak is endangered. Once widely distributed in the high valleys and plateaus of Tibet and the adjoining mountain country, the yak was decimated by hunting, surviving in scattered, isolated herds in the most remote, inhospitable areas. Although officially protected from hunting and commercial trade, these restrictions are almost impossible to enforce in the remote areas where the yak is now found. Its future depends on suitable reserves with good pastures and efficient protection.