Ladakh, undoubtedly, is a unique wildlife destination, which boasts of being home to a number of exotic animals as well as bird species roaming freely in their natural habitat. You can witness a huge variety of flora and fauna. It also has some rare and endangered species of animals. The region of Ladakh with a unique ecosystem gives an opportunity of a wildlife as well as a photography enthusiast to view some rare and most beautiful wildlife species with a striking background of the snowy peaks.
The list of wild animal species of the region is quite long which includes some endangered species too. You can spot Yaks, ibex, Tibetan hare, Blue sheep, wild ass, Bharal, Marmot, the Tibetan antelope, also called the Chiru and the Snow Leopard etc. This region is home to as many as 310 species of avifauna which are inclusive of types like Golden Eagle, Lamagier, Wall creeper, Rock Bunting, Black necked crane, Himalayan Snowcock and so on.
In the northern Himalayas, Hemis National Park is considered as a protected area and is a popular national parks in India. This national park is one of the largest in India and second largest in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Hemis provides shelter to various conserved and endangered species. The major attraction of the park that flocks wildlife enthusiasts from all across the globe is a considerable population of snow leopards. The total area of the Hemis National Park is covered under the Palearctic Ecozone.
- Major Attraction - Snow Leopard
- Established - 1981
- Total Area - 4,400 sq km (1,700 sq mi)
- Nearest Airport - Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport (5 km)
- Nearest Railhead - Kalka (Haryana)
- Nearest Highway - Leh-Manali Highway and National Highway 1D (Srinagar - Kargil - Leh)
- Nearest City - Leh (10 km)
- Nearest Town - There are a few villages, and Monasteries (Gumphas) in the national park
The Hemis National Park is bordered by the bank of Indus River. The catchments of Markha, Sumdah, and Rumbak, together with the regions of Zanskar Range. The Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe ecoregion also covered the national park. The area features Alpine Tundra, Meadows, Alpine Shrublands and Pine Forests.
Hemis National Park was founded in 1981 by protecting the Rumbak and Markha catchments. The initial area of the park was 230 sq mi (600 sq km). Thereafter, in 1988, the park was extended to an area of 1,290 sq mi (3,350 sq km), adding the neighboring lands. In the year 1990, the park was further extended to 1,700 sq mi (4,400 sq km), which makes the Hemis National Park - the largest national park of South Asia.
The park also features Tibetan Gumphas and Holy Chortens inside its boundary. Hemis Monastery, 400 year old, is also one of the major highlights of the park. Henceforth, the Hemis National Park makes up an important part of the Ladakh tourism.
As this region of Himalaya falls under the rain shadow region, therefore there isn't much of rains. In the lower elevation, dry forests of juniper, Populus - Salix forests and subalpine dry birch - fir, subalpine dry birch - fir are featured.
Hemis National Park provides shelter to almost 16 mammal species as recorded in the latest survey. The population density of the snow leopards in the park amounts to 200. The probability if spotting snow leopard in the area of Rumbak catchment. Some other species spotted in the national park are Asiatic Ibex, Shapus, Eurasian Brown Bear, Tibetan Wolf, Red Fox, Himalayan Mouse Hare, Mountain Weasel, Himalayan Marmot, etc.
The latest survey records about 73 species of birds including both migratory and native species. Hemis National Park is ideal for those interested in studying about the Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan birds of prey. Some of the birds that can be spotted in the national park are Golden Eagle, Lammergeier Vulture, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Fork-Tailed Swift, Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Fire-Fronted Serin, Red-Billed Chough, Brown Accentor, Streaked Rosefinch, Chukar, Robin Accentor, Himalayan Snowcock, Tibetan Snowfinch, etc.