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The yak, as the only bovine species adapted to the cold and harsh conditions of the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region and Qinghai–Tibetan plateau with an altitude ranged from 2000 to 5000 metres above sea level (masl), has been central to the development of the farming and the pastoral communities of these areas. The domesticated population is estimated to be around 15 million while wild yak are still present in the nature reserves in People's Republic of China.

The range of products and services provided by the yak is considerable, among others:

The Third International Congress on Yak was held from 4–9 September 2000 in Lhasa, Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of P.R. China. More than 110 Chinese and 70 international delegates attended it. It was the third time that the congress was held in China, the most important yak rearing country, following the conferences in Lanzhou (Gansu, August 1994) and in Xining (Qinghai, September 1997). The congress was held successfully with strong supports of the Tibetan Government and relavant authorities. More particularly, the state ministries of Science and Technology, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs, the TAR Government, the Tibetan Academy of Agriculture and Animal Sciences (TAAAS), the Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Tibetan Autonomous Region worked efficiently for the preparation of the meeting with the full co-operation of the International Yak Information Centre (IYIC), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations–Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (FAO–ROAP), and the Yak and Camel Foundation of Germany. Financial supports were also given by the China Yak Breeding Association, Heifer Project International (China Office), Qinghai Academy of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Datong Yak Farm, Kyrgyz Swiss Agricultural Project (KSAP), Helvetas Kyrgyzstan, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Royal Netherlands Government Embassy in Beijing.

The proceedings includes the invited papers and research papers presented in both oral and poster sessions. Out of 122 presentations 86 are published here. We thank all contributors for their support during the reviewing and the editing processes of the papers. This proceeding is yours. We apologise for any mistake that might have gone through the reviewing process.

We would like to particularly thank Drs Nyima Tashi and Gerald Wiener for helping us in reviewing some of the papers. Last but not least, our gratitude goes to the ILRI publications group, especially Ms Anne Marie Nyamu, Ato Tesfaye Jemaneh and Ato Mezgebu Abegaz, who tirelessly edited the final papers. Thanks again!