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ladakhi ibex
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Wild Life in Ladakh

The animal species of Ladakh have shown an excellent ecological adaptation and flourished at an altitude where men can hardly breathe. Travellers find the wildlife of Ladakh interesting both in terms of ecological specialisation and their occurrence in the remote regions of rugged Ladakh. Ladakh possesses virtually no natural forests, though along riverbanks and valleys some greenery does exist. The lower mountain slopes are sparse but higher up, near the snow line, wild rose, willow and herbaceous plants have successfully colonized the slopes. This is the alpine zone. While soil, wind, precipitation and exposure are important determinants in the arrangement of specific life, the temperature differential due to altitude is by far the most important factor. Because of the decrease in the temperature, vegetation becomes more sparse and stunted as one ascends the slopes.

Duration: 20 days

Places Covered:

Leh, Spituk, Zinchen, Rumbak, Shingo, Skiu, Markha, Thachungtse, Nimaling, Gya, Latho, Pangong, Chang La, Delhi

Season: October - November


Animal Species in Ladakh

In this extremely harsh environment the untrained eye would hardly see any evidence of wildlife at all. Animals, which have adapted to the rigorous conditions however, thrive on the minimal vegetation, poor shelter, rocky terrain and bitter cold. Nevertheless, most creatures, notably the ungulates, do migrate to lower regions in winter while others, like the brown bear and marmots, choose to hibernate. Ironically, at this altitude many animals suffer from "mountain sickness" because of the lack of oxygen! Their bodies however, seem to adopt to this condition, as the number of red blood corpuscles increases along with blood acidity. Most large mammals have a unique devise for protection against the cold-- a highly insulated shaggy coat.

Yak or Wild Ox (Ladakhi: dong)

Yak(dong)-a wild ox is the largest animal found in Ladakh. and is definitely more imposing than its placid domestic counterpart. Immensely shaggy and weighing about a tone it has curved horns whose tips can be as wide apart as 90 cm. and measure 76 cm. over the curves. It can easily be distinguished by its long black hair, which is tinged with gray at the muzzle. Spending its summers at a height above 6,000 meters, in winter it moves in herds to the lakes, marshes and lower valleys.
wildlife package tour ladakh

The Great Tibetan Sheep (Ladakhi: nyan)

Largest and most magnificent of wild sheep in the whole world, it is also called the Great Tibetan sheep (Ovis ammon). Roughly 200 of these are found in the extreme eastern portion of Ladakh. The horns of the nyan measure up to 145 cm. and the animal normally remains at a great height, rarely descending to a level below 4,500 meters.

Urial or the Smallest Sheep (Ladakhi: shapu)

Urial or shapu (Ovis orientalis) is the smallest sheep in the world. Its body, which is just about as tall as its horns usually weighs 85 Kg. and has horns measuring upto 99 cm. These sheep prefer the grassy mountain slopes. The breeding of this species, as is the case with most sheep, takes place during December-January and they give birth to their young ones around May. The need for protection of the urial is great as they are within easy reach of hunters. Their numbers have been declining rapidly and it is estimated that there are no more than 500 in Ladakh.

Bharal or Blue Sheep (Ladakhi: napo)

A survey by the Wildlife Department of Jammu & Kashmir puts another population in the Markha and Rumbak valleys at only around 34-50. The most common and wide spread of the sheep in the Ladakh region is the bharal or the blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur). Found at an altitude of almost 6,000 meters, in summer they graze in huge herds on the rich and abundant grasses of the alpine meadows. Their brownish-gray coloring provides them with protective camouflage and as they often stand motionless they can be extremely difficult to spot but, when alarmed, bharal will bolt swiftly to safety. Strangely, bharal seems to bear some morphological traits of both sheep and goats.
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Ibex (Ladakhi: skin)

The Ibex or Capra Ibex is also a big attraction for wildlife lovers. Trekkers often spot them, for they are found in good numbers in the district of Ladakh. Ibexes are beautiful in appearance and sport a pair of finely curved spiral horns that could measure as much as 147 cm. They move in herds of 10-16.

Snow Leopard (Ladakhi: shan)

The area of Ladakh also supports and shelters a good population of snow leopards. The snow leopard is found in the high mountainous regions of Central Asia. In India, it can be spotted in the states that lie along the northern Indian border. The species of snow leopard has been declared endangered and efforts are on to promote measures that help the breeding population perpetuate.

Bird Species in Ladakh

The region of Ladakh is also known to shelter around 310 species of birds; though it is not regarded as a birding paradise. Most of the bird species found in Ladakh are breeding migrants. Resident birds come down from high altitude regions after breeding period is over. The places where you can spot a variety of species include the Suru Valley, the Rizong Monastery, Hemis National Park and the Rumbak Valley. Fire-capped Tit, White-tailed Rubythroat, Longbilled Bush Warbler, Little Forktail, Wallcreeper, Brown Dipper, Golden Eagle, Himalayan Snowcock and Rock Bunting are some of the most commonly sighted bird species in the aforementioned wildlife spots.

For detailed itinerary with cost and to book the trek please contact us at:

Lakruk Complex, Fort Road, Post Box no. 206
Leh- Ladakh, India.
Tel : 01982- 252153, 251673, Mobile : 09419976787
E-mail : lakpale@yahoo.co.in , info@zanskartrek.com
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