Himalayan gold rush – Himalayan caterpillar fungus -- known as yartsa gunbu , and Himalayan Viagra -- is prized in traditional medicine. Its value draws thousands of people to high-altitude meadows in Nepal's Dolpa district each year in search of it.
Himalayan gold rush – A harvesters' camp in Dolpa, at 4,300 meters elevation.
Himalayan gold rush – Harvesters' eyes must be extremely sharp in order to find the tiny fungus head sticking out of the ground.
Himalayan gold rush – A single, tiny piece of yartsa gunbu can earn a harvester between $3 to $5.50, and then sell for three times that amount overseas.
Himalayan gold rush – In order to harvest the small tubules, a pick or shovel is used to dig the earth surrounding it, leaving fields pock marked with holes. Some locals say the influx of harvesters is damaging hillsides and grasslands
Himalayan gold rush – Women harvesting together rush over when one spots a piece of yartsa gunbu protruding from the soil.
Himalayan gold rush – A harvester holds up his tax receipt. Citizen committees in Dolpa levy taxes on migrant harvesters in an effort to buoy the local economy and fund environmental clean-up activities.