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Flora and fauna

General Info
        Tropical Forests
    ·  Temperate Forests
    ·  Sub-alpine forests
    ·  Alpine scrubs

 ·  Fauna
    ·  Mammals
    ·  Birds

Why are these animals endangered?

How much money do the poachers make?

Protected Areas
 ·  Nepal
 ·  India

The Himalayas - where earth meets sky
Flora and Fauna

General info
The Himalayas stretches over a distance of about 2500 kms from west to east. It average width along the entire longitudinal extension ranges from 100 - 400 km. The vast area covered by the mountain range along with some fantastic altitude gradients result in the tremendous biodiversity of the Himalayan region. Vegetation and wildlife, both change according to the varying altitude and the resulting differences in climatic conditions.
The magic of the Bhyundar Valley or the Valley of Flowers. (Real Audio)
The magic of the Bhyundar Valley or the Valley of Flowers

(Download Realplayer)

Thousands of species of flora and fauna thrive in the region, each adapting to its climatic conditions, predators and other challenges unique to one's habitat. However, as in other regions, man's entry and exploitation into the region has meant that many species have become extinct or are threatened and on the verge of extinction. We present a brief look at the tremendous natural wealth of the Himalayas.

The rare Himalayan Blue Poppy. Credit: Raj Shirole
The rare Himalayan Blue Poppy
Credit: Raj Shirole

Himalayan vegetation varies according to both altitude and climatic conditions. They range from the tropical deciduous forests in the foothills, to temperate forests in the middle altitudes. Higher up, coniferous, sub-alpine, and alpine forests spring up. These finally give way to alpine grasslands and high altitude meadows. They are followed by scrublands which lead up to the permanent snowline.

The vegetation also varies from the unexplored tropical rainforests of the Eastern Himalayas, to the dense subtropical and alpine forests of the Central and Western Himalayas to the sparse desert vegetation of the cold desert areas of the Transhimalaya.

However, the floral wealth of the Himalayas have also been affected by man. Over the centuries, man has always been dependent on his forests for a number of his needs. But earlier, these needs were few, the forests were able to replenish the resources, and the delicate natural balance was maintained. But over the years, the human population increased dramatically, and with it the number of industries that depended on forests. Extraordinary demands were made on the forests. Forests were cut down for firewood and to feed the growing number of forest-based industries. They were also cleared to accommodate the growing population. As a result, many species of trees that were very common even 50 years ago, are now rare or have completely disappeared from certain areas.

Rain forests in Arunachal. Credit : Karamjeet Singh
Rain forests in Arunachal
Credit: Karamjeet Singh

Tropical forests
There are mainly two types of tropical forests that are found in the Himalayas - the tropical rainforests, and the tropical deciduous forests. The tropical rainforests are dense, evergreen, gloomy and similar to the forests of the Amazon basin and other equatorial areas. They occur mainly in the eastern Himalayas which receives very heavy rainfall.

Tropical deciduous forests are found in regions of slightly lower rainfall. They are common in the lower slopes of the Himalayas. These forests shed their leaves in certain seasons. Also the forests tend to be less dense than the rainforests. Forests of teak and sal are common in areas of deciduous vegetation.

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