Hemis National Park

Hemis High Altitude National Park (3350 sq km) is situated in the northernmost district of Ladakh and lies on the west bank of the Indus. Constituted in 1981 as the best potential area for the protection of Snow Leopards in India, Hemis is the country's first national park to be established north of the main Himalayan Range. The high altitude park derives its name from the Hemis Gompa, a famous Buddhist monastery situated 40 km south east of Leh.

You drive to Zingchen from where you start your exploration on foot. Rumbak Valley, considered one of the finest habitats for the Snow Leopard, is about a 2 hr walk. The rocky terrain of this high altitude desert comprises of rugged valleys, often littered with stones and surrounded by peaks exceeding 5000m. The climate is one of extremes, with considerable daily and seasonal fluctuations. Snowfall can occur at any time of the year. During winter the Zanskar river and its tributaries remain frozen, with much of its catchment within Hemis.

73 bird species and 16 mammalian species have been recorded inside the park, which includes several Tibetan fauna. Another highlight of Hemis are its fascinating inhabitants, who are mostly Buddhists. Numbering roughly 1600, they still live within the park's boundaries, growing barley and seasonal vegetables and tending to over 4000 heads of livestock.

Though most famous for its Snow Leopard and Ibex population, other mammals found in Hemis include the wolf, Wild Dog, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Pallas's Cat, Tibetan argali, Himalayan marmots, Kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass), Lynx, Wooly Hare and Pika (Mouse Hare).

The avian species one may see include Tibetan and Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar partridge, Accentor Robin, Spotted Forktail, Brown and White-throated Dipper, Red-mantled, Great Nose and Streaked Rose-finch, Red-flanked Bluetail and raptors such as Golden Eagle, Lammergeier and Himalayan Griffon.

The vegetation of Hemis is predominantly alpine and steppe with patchy forests and shrub species at the bottom of the valleys. The moist upper mountain slopes support limited areas of alpine vegetation. The remaining mountain slopes and open hillsides support primarily steppe vegetation. The valleys are typically representative of high altitude desert characterized by sparse grasslands and herbaceous vegetation on mountain slopes.

Fact sheet:

State : Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir
Area : 3350 sq km
Altitude : 3500 to 6933 m above mean sea level
Vegetation : Alpine and steppe with mixed tree and shrubs at the bottom valleys
Water resources : Zanskar river, Markha, Rumbak and Sundha nalas.
Winter : October to April
Monsoon : Seasonal
Rainfall : 160.5 mm per year at Leh
Temperature : -20 to 30°C

No comments:

Post a Comment