The KIANG and I
The Kiang is a magnificent beast. The wild ass, the largest of the species, roams the high altitude plains of the Tibetan Plateau. In Ladakh they are mainly to be found in the Changthang region, roaming its fertile grasslands along with the nomadic Chang Pa people.
Over the course of my travels in Ladakh I have had numerous encounters with the Kiang and have come to admire them a great deal.
The Kiang is a handsome beast. Muscular, with a shiny coat and a well toned body. Their beige and brown coat allows them to easily blend in with the dry brown desert landscape of Ladakh.
They are very healthy, impressive beasts. I must have seen hundreds of Kiangs but do not recall ever seeing a scrawny individual. Perhaps it is natural selection at play here with the weak animals succumbing to the harsh Ladakhi winter or being picked away by the wild dogs and wolves that prey on them.
More than their appearance, it is their character that intrigues me. Like any wild animal the Kiang is very skittish. They are very wary creatures and always keep a safe distance of about 50 to 100 meters between themselves and any strangers that try to approach them. This is to be expected though. But what surprises me most is their curious nature.
Usually when I spot the Kiangs I tend to gingerly tail them and take a few pictures with different backgrounds. But I have also had the situation reversed a few times, when the Kiangs start following me around. Maybe they just want to keep an eye on me, a potential predator, to make sure that i do not slip out of their vision and try to outflank them. Or maybe they are genuinely curious to see what the two legged creature is doing in their habitat. Nobody can say for sure.
But what i can say for sure is that I always enjoy coming across Kiangs in my travels. And here is a small collection of pictures and accounts of my different encounters with the Kiangs.