[Himachal GK] Geographical distribution of Flora and Fauna in Himachal & Western Himalayas

The transition zones from sub-tropical warmth to artic colds are telescoped into a mere 250 kilometers (156 miles) between the Punjab plains and the Tibetan plateau, Himachal Pradesh is an ideal habitat for a rich species of flora and fauna.

Towards the plains, the Shivalks are fringed with broad-leaved Sal and silk cotton, which give way to sheesham, kail and the long leaved cheer pine on the slopes of the foothills. A temperate zone of the
mixed forests follows on the lower reaches of the Dhauladhars and Pir Panjal ranges, which are covered with mossy oak, dropping branches of Spruce, and the smooth silvery bark of the West Himalayan fir. Near streams or on the colder northern slopes one finds the maple, but most significant is the tree of the gods and the pride of the Western Himalaya –the stately deodar. This magnificent conifer soars up to a height of 45 meters (150 feet).


Himalayan Cedar

The neat park-like coniferous forests begin to thin around 2,700meters (9,000 feet). Windblown birches and clumps of stunted junipers mark the tree line, beyond which extend the idyllic alpine meadows. Here in summer, a profusion of wild flowers, including the rare Himalayan blue poppy, push out their way out of the thawing soil.

These varying life zones support an exciting range of fauna. One of the lasting pleasures of a walks in these woods are the alluring calls from unsighted birds. Easily traced are the whistling thrushes, magpies, tits and woodpeckers. Flycatchers pirouette in mid air to claim their catch, while nuthatches and tree creepers comb the fissures in the bark of conifers. The sudden flight of the Koklas and Khalij pheasants from the undergrowth never fails to startle, and if one has the patience of the Himalayan pied Kingfisher, one can be rewarded by the breathtaking sight of a bird in nine iridescent colors –the Monal. At higher altitudes, the bird life begins to thin along with the trees. Rarer the numbers, but clearly visible when present, are the snow cock, the Himalayan choughs, rose finches and accentors. Overhead, gliding in the thermals, one is likely to spot the griffon vulture, perhaps the lammergeyer with its beard and nine-foot wingspan, and if one is lucky, the golden eagle. The sight of a skein of wild geese on their migratory flight, flights the wind at 6,000 meters (20,000 feet), is an unforgettable experience.

Himalayan Pied Woodpecker

Mammals are not easily sighted. Encroachment on the forest cover by the human population has forced them to retreat into the protected zones, where their natural habitat is still preserved. In Himachal Pradesh, 28 such areas have been demarked as sanctuaries. In most cases, these are the sparsely populated higher reaches of the valley and of the valleys and the passes that have served as an avenue for the movement of wildlife across the ranges. They present a unique enclave, in which Eurasian and tropical species comes into contact. Perhaps the most beautiful animal, and certainly the most exclusive, is the fabled snow leopard. It has an attractive spotted pelt of smoky gray, paling to pure white on the underside, which is prized by poachers who have, thus sadly, enhanced its rarity. Its prey is more easily sighted by trekkers: Bharal and Goral graze on open slopes, while the Ibex easily identified by its large scimitar horns and characteristic beard, may present a striking silhouette at the edge of a steep stiff. Another attractive goat partial to steep terrain is the Himalayan Thar, with its unmistakable shaggy straw-colored shoulder ruffs. Solitary in their movement are the more reticent musk deer, which shares the insecurity of the snow leopard, since they too are sought by poachers who have thus, sadly, enhanced its rarity.

Snow Leopard found in Himachal


Its prey are more easily sighted by trekkers: Bharal and Goral graze on open slopes, while the Ibex, easily identified by its large scimitar horns and characteristic beard, may present a striking silhouette at the edge of the steep stiff. Another attractive goat partial to the steep terrain is the Himalayan Thar, with its unmistakable shaggy straw-colored shoulder ruffs. Solitary in their movements are the more recent musk deer, which share the insecurity of the snow leopard, since they too are sought by poachers for their precious musk glands. More widely distributed are the barking deer, the Himalayan Brown and Black Bear, the forest leopard, the fox and of course the macaques and langurs. The most satisfying way to observe this wildlife is by trekking in these magnificent areas.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Translate