Wildlife

WILD ANIMAL IN LADAKH:

The Ibex is found in high craggy terrain, it still numbers several thousand in Ladakh, and trekkers often spot them. The Bharal, or blue sheep, is even more common, ranging in the Himalayas from Ladakh east as far as Sikkim. The Shapu is a goat, found at lower elevations, mostly in river valleys, and therefore is often directly in competition with domesticated animals. They are now rare, numbering about one thousand. The Argali, or Nayan, is a relative of the Marco Polo sheep of the Pamirs. They are impressive animals with huge horizontal curving horns. They are extremely rare in Ladakh, numbering only a couple hundred, however they do have a wide range threw out mountainous areas of the Chinese Provinces of Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu.

The Chiru, or Tibetan antelope, (known in Ladakhi as Stos) is also endangered. It has traditionally been hunted for its wool. The wool obtained from the Chiru is called Shahtoosh, and is valued in South Asia for its lightweight and warmth, but more than anything else, as a status symbol. The owning or trading in Shahtoosh is now illegal in most countries.

The Kyang, or Tibetan Wild Ass, is one animal that visitors can expect to see from the comfort of a vehicle, if they take a Jeep tour on the Changthang.

The Snow Leopard sometimes known as the ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of central and southern Asia.The Snow Leopard once ranged throughout the Himalaya, Tibet, and as far as the Sayan mountains on the Mongolian-Russian border; and in elevation from 1800 m to 5400 m. They are extremely shy, and well hard to spot, and as such not well known, it is believed there are about 200 in Ladakh. While tourists are unlikely to see the cats themselves, during winter the footprints and other marks are not uncommon. Other cats in Ladakh are even more rare than the snow leopard, the Lynx, numbering only a few individuals, and the Pallas’s cat, who looks outwardly like a house cat.

The Tibetan Wolf is the greatest threat to the livestock of the Ladakhis and as such is the most persecuted, there are only about 300 wolves left in Ladakh. There are also a very few brown bears in the Suru valley and the area around Dras. The Tibetan Sand Fox has recently been discovered in this region. Well known for its beautiful fur, the snow leopard has a soft grey coat with ringed spots and rosettes of black on brown. The fur turns white in the winter. Its tail is heavy with fur and the bottom of its paws are covered with fur for protection against snow and cold. The life span of a snow leopard is normally 15-18 years, but in captivity they can live up to 20 years.

Among smaller animals, Marmots are common; you can even sometimes see them from the road, although they do not look different enough to the marmots common to other mountainous areas of the world to be of much interest. There are also plenty of voles, hares, and several types of Pika.