Flora and Fauna of Ladakh

Ladakh is rightfully known as the cold desert that expands into the horizon and casts a temperature of very low temperature, high-speed winds and rocky terrains. Ladakh is as beautiful as a place can get in its raw nature. It is epic and easily manages to mesmerize anyone who enters it. And, a place of such immense beauty has to have its fair share of flora and fauna to add to its ‘wow’ quotient.

As Ladakh’s is a very dry land, the vegetation is bare minimum and natural vegetation occurs along water courses and on high altitude areas that receive more snow. The vegetation includes the ‘Seabuckthorn’, wild roses of pink or yellow varieties, Tamarisk, Mint etc.’

Juniper trees can also be found growing in the wild and are usually considered sacred by the Buddhists. However, in the areas of human settlement there are lush fields and trees which have been planted and irrigated well. Here the vegetation also expands and one gets to see crops like ‘Barley, Peas, Wheat and even fruits like Grapes and a great many variety of vegetables.

Though this can’t be said about the fauna of Ladakh, as it houses a great many species of animals and it is surprising that mammals both big and small have found a way to survive in the cold deserts of the ‘Ladaki air’. Many of these animals have adapted their bodies to be fit for the extreme climate of Ladakh, and though they are known to suffer from lack of oxygen at higher altitudes, most of them of cope up as their red blood corpuscles increases in number and so does their acidity.

Ladakh has a great many species of birds considering the fact that it is such an arid  desert. A total of 225 species have been recorded so far, and these include ‘Finches’, Robins, Redstarts and the Hoopoe. Some of the resident water-birds include the ‘Brahminy Duck’ and the ‘Bar-headed Goose’.  Other birds include the ‘Raven’, ‘Red-billed Chough’, ‘Tibetan Snowcock’, and ‘Chukar’. The ‘Lammergeier’ and the ‘Golden Eagle’ are common raptors here.

Many of the large animals like the useful ‘Yak’, ‘Bharal’ (the blue sheep) and ‘Urial’ (Smallest sheep) have natural coat of thick fur that helps protect them in the harsher climates. One of the many great sheep’s found in Ladakh are the ‘Nyan’ which hardly ever descend lower than 4,500 mtrs and are known to be expert climbers and it is amazing to see them run up the steepest of slopes without slipping. Reduced to approx 200 in number, they are an endangered species and efforts have been started to conserve them.

Many of the other mammals include the ‘Tibetan Sand Fox’, ‘Eurasian Lynx’, ‘Tibetan Wild-Ass’, ‘Tibetan Wolf’ and the if one is really lucky one might just get to spot the magnificent ‘Snow Leopard’ out of the 200 that are left in Ladakh. As  beautiful is the terrain of Ladakh so is the ‘Flora’ and ‘Fauna’.

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