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Wildlife in Leh-Ladakh

At a spectacular height of 4,600 meters in the outer Himalayas with peaks ranging from 5,800 to 7,600 meters, Ladakh the mysterious land of passes with unexplored beauty lies. Discovered by the Chinese traveler Fa-hian, Ladakh has a parched landscape with dryness around. The land where snow never melts, Ladakh is a wind swept country with sparse vegetation.

The night sky is unique, clear and crisp with thousands of stars blinking and effusing an ethereal atmosphere. This remote place had many animals and birds living in the extremities of temperature. With the ecosystem being affected, Wildlife in Leh-Ladakh has undergone changes.

One can hardly see any evidence of Wildlife in Leh-Ladakh in the harsh climatic conditions prevailing there. But animals have adapted themselves to rigorous conditions. They thrive on sparse vegetation, poor shelter, rocky terrain and bitter cold. Many animals migrate to lower regions in winter while animals like brown bear and marmots, choose to hibernate. 

If you are on a rendezvous to Leh and Ladakh and want to catch a glimpse of its Wildlife, you can trek at a height of 6000 meters, if traveling during summers to see the shaggy looking yak distinguished by its long black hair and flecked with gray at the muzzle. These wild oxen are the largest animals of the cold desert and are found in the low marshy lands and lakes during winters.

The most magnificent of all sheep are the Nyan, found always at a height of 4,500 meters. Also known as the Great Tibetan sheep, they are found in flocks in the extreme eastern portion of Ladakh.

Found in the grassy mountain slopes at a height of 3,000 to 4,000 meters, the Urials or shapus are the smallest of sheep. With it declining numbers the wild life department of Jammu and Kashmir are trying their best to preserve them. Also found in Markha and Rumbak valleys in small numbers it is a pleasure to watch them. Bharal or the blue sheep are the most common form of sheep found in the Leh and Ladakh region.

Wildlife lovers can brave the cold to look for Leh and Ladakh's spectacular wildlife. It is interesting to note their habitat and watch them adapting to the extremes of climate.