are the world's longest, highest mountains. One third of all
mountain animals live here. The range is home to many endangered
species. The Himalayan mountain range is over 1,500 miles
long and 250 miles wide and includes most of Nepal
and Bhutan, south Tibet, and the extreme
north of India. it is divided into three zones: the Greater,
Lesser, and Outer Himalayas. Since the range
is so long with so many varied climates, the wildlife of the
Himalayas is remarkably diverse.
Origins: The Himalayas were created about 70 million
years ago when two continental plates collided, pushing up the
massive mountain range where they met. In this way India and
Eurasia were joined together, which accounts for the wide variety
of wildlife found here. Species from Asia, Africa, and
the Mediterranean all converged here. Even today, various species
of the eastern Himalayas have a west Chinese influence, while
the western range has Europe Mediterranean elements. Fossil
records show that animals such as the giraffe and the hippo
once lived here.
Vegetation: Four different types of vegetation live in
the Himalayas: tropical, subtropical, temperate,
and alpine. The foothills of the Outer Himalayas are
blanketed in dense tropical rain forests of bamboo, oak, and
chestnut. Further west, as the altitude increases, the forest
thins, and evergreen, cedars, pines,
and firs become the dominant species. In the alpine
zone, which begins at about 12.000 feet, grows great amounts
of moist vegetation, including juniper and rhododendron.
The domestic yak supplies rural nomads in Tibet with meat and
hides. Its also serves as a pack animal. The male monal or Impeyon
pheasant, has iridescent, multicolored plumage that he displays
when courting his mate. This national bird of Nepal is widely
hunted for sport.
Insects: The forests of the Himalayan foothills are an
ideal home for insects, including bumblebees and crane
flies. Higher up the slopes, where the nights are colder,
many insect species have dark bodies to absorb as much heat
as possible. Many butterflies live at surprisingly high altitudes:
Apollo's, blues, vanessas, and papilios
are common up to 14,000 feet. Even higher than this are other
tiny insects. No one is sure how they survive at such altitudes;
they likely feed on pollen, seeds, and other organic debris
swept upward by drafts.
Mammals: More sheep species live in the Himalayas
than in any other mountain range in the world. They include
the Marco Polo sheep, which, because of the market
for its long, spiraling horns, has been hunted almost
to extinction. The largest wild sheep in the world, the
great Tibetan sheep, also live here. They can withstand
extreme temperatures ranging from scorching summers to freezing
Three species of mountain goat live in the Himalayas: the
Ibex, the markhor, and the wild goat.
Three species of goat antelope live here too. Taken is the
national animal of Bhutan. The massive yak is the largest
animal of the mountains, and one of the highest dwellings
animals in the world. Its long shaggy coat enables it to inhabit
the coldest areas of the Himalayas.
The brown bear and the Himalayan black bear scavenge
mammal carcasses, although they also eat fruit. One of the
rarest bears in the world, the Tibetan blue bear, also
lives here. Cats and dogs live in the Himalayas: the wolf,
the wild dog, and the hill fox are common. Among
the cats are: the tiger and leopard, as well
as the jungle cat, lynx, and Pallas cat.
The beautiful snow leopard rangers throughout the Himalayas'
its prey consists of wild sheep and goats.
The Endangered Himalayas: The Himalayan mountain range
is one of the most endangered environments in the world. Mankind
is gradually encroaching on the wilderness, building, polluting,
and destroying. Although steps are now being taken to preserve
this important habitat, it is a case of too little, too late.
the elusive snow leopard has a beautiful, thick coat that
is soft gray on top, paling to a pure white underside. This
has made it a target for hunters, and poachers; despite the
species being protected, several are killed each year.
The musk deer used to be common in the Himalayas.
Musk from the males scent gland is in demand from perfume
manufacturers. Consequently, the species is in danger of Extinction,
dispute protection with preserves. Other endangered Himalayan
species include the brown bear, Tibetan blue bear,
red panda, and black necked crane. The Marco
Polo sheep, a rare subspecies of the argali, a sheep of the
Himalayan plateaus, is widely hunted despite protection. secluded
valleys still preserve an unspoiled way of life for villagers
and wildlife. The Chinese were the first to use the musk deer's
scent in perfume. This deer is now very rare in the wild.
Do you Know?
The Himalayas Karakoram mountain range contains 96 of the
world's 109 peaks over 24,000 feet.
Mount Everest, the world's highest peak at 29,141 feet, was
named after Col. Sir. George Everest.
The spiraling horns of the Himalayan markhor can grow to a
length of five feet.