INDIA    -      At least 300 yaks have starved to death near India’s border with China after getting trapped by heavy snowfall.

Government official Raj Yadav said they found the corpses in the north-east state of Sikkim on Friday.

The yaks had been trapped since December. Authorities had tried to drop food to the animals by helicopter but were pushed back by poor weather.

Yaks have been in the region for thousands of years, used for their milk and meat but also to transport goods.

“The passage was cleared five days ago, after which our team trekked to the area to discover the tragedy,” Mr Yadav said.

Authorities found the dead yaks in the Mukuthang valley in the north of the state. While between 10 and 15 yaks usually die each year, this year’s toll is the highest on record.

Efforts are under way to reach up to 50 yaks still trapped in the area “that need immediate attention”, Mr Yadav said.

Yak owners would receive compensation of 30,000 rupees ($430) per yak, with a maximum of three yaks per family.