Tsethar International has been practicing animal liberation of yaks, fish and birds since 2006.
The yak, whose body and spirit embodies the independence, grace and deep peace of the vast, pastoral Himalayan landscape, holds a special place in the hearts of the Tibetan people. Few cultures on earth rely as heavily on one species as do the Tibetans on the yak. This bovine giant’s milk, cheese and butter provide a major source of nourishment, and its strong hair is woven into blankets, tents, bags and rope.
As the insatiable human taste for the exotic seeks out new food sources, the modern meat industry has found its way to the “Rooftop of the World.” Unprecedented numbers of these Tibetan icons are being led to slaughter, their meat sold by the ton in Chinese and international markets.
In recent years during our travels to Tibet, we noticed an alarming increase in the number of yaks being led to slaughter. Everywhere we went, truckloads of yaks were being driven to their deaths. Radio Free Asia recently reported that yaks owned by Tibetans have often gone missing, with many discovered to have been stolen and butchered by Chinese slaughterhouse owners. As it turns out, the Chinese have intensified the production of the Tibetan yak for use in more than 20 enterprises engaged in manufacturing about 100 kinds of products like yak jerky, yak milk, woolen sweaters, mounted yak skulls and horns and yak horn combs.
Inspired to establish an animal liberation project, Tsethar International was organized in 2006 and began to purchase yaks directly from the slaughterhouse. Once purchased, the yaks are led out of the slaughterhouse and walked in procession, their horns painted red and yellow to signify their protected status. Lamas then perform an hour-long blessing ceremony, after which the yaks are released into a sanctuary created and maintained by Tsethar International.
Through the generous support of friends and animal lovers, and the proceeds from our pilgrimage tours, Tsethar International has made it possible for many of these beautiful beasts to live out their natural lives under the watch of a caretaker and roam free in hundreds of acres of pastureland. Saving these noble and gentle creatures has blessed us with more satisfaction, peace and joy than we had ever imagined possible.
Liberation of Birds, Fish and Other Animals
The tsethar of birds, fish and other creatures is a little more complicated because there are several factors one must consider carefully in order to safely liberate them. (If you want to liberate such an animal, please visit “Performing Tsethar” from the menu above to view guidelines for the safe release of animals.)
However, Tsethar International practices effective bird liberation in China and Hong Kong. There, many species of live birds are sold at market for food. Tsethar International purchases these birds and releases them into the wide-open sky, reciting mantras and prayers for their rebirth in favorable circumstances and ultimately, their liberation from samsara, or suffering.
Fish Liberation is also undertaken by Tsethar International. Live fish are purchased from markets abroad and here in the United States, and released safely into their native habitat. Prayers, blessings and mantras are recited for a long life for the fish and an auspicious rebirth.