Lying at the confluence
of three zoogeographic realms, Palearctic, Oriental and Malayan, Ladakh's
ecosystem is possibly the most unique and by far the most fascinating in
the world. With its barren plateaus and uplands, Ladakh has a distinct
alpine, floral and faunal variety. Several flowering plants, a dozen important
mammals and over a hundred species of birds are found here in this rugged
terrain. Most of the species are classified as endangered or rare.
A water-bird of Ladakh
The wild yak is to be found only here. Other animals
include the ibex, blue sheep, bharal, docile marmot and mouse hare. Black
necked crane, bar-headed geese, ducks and several other water birds breed
near the lakes in thousands. The avid bird watcher can spend friutful hours
by observing Bactrian magpies, grey tits, chough, raven, sparrow, kite,
kestrel, Turkoman rock pigeon, chukor, finches, buntings, larks, desert
wheateaters, a many more varieties of birds.
The snow leopard is Ladakh's most rare animal.
Another one that is unique is the kyang or the wild horse, while at lower
altitudes the musk deer too is a rare sight, precious by virtue of its
expensive musk. Visitors are likely to spot many marmots, mouse hares,
stone martens, red foxes, wolves, ibex, bharal and shapu during the course
of their journey but the habitat of the nyan (big horned sheep), chim (Tibetan
antelope famed for its fleece-Shahtoosh), goa (Tibetan gazelle), lynx,
pallas cat, kyamg (wild horse) and brong dong (wild yak) are still outside
the tourists' domain.
The wild horse is unique to Ladakh