Flora and Fauna In Uttarakhand

Himalayan state of Uttarakhand is a rich repository of flora & fauna. The flora & fauna in Uttarakhand is showcased at its best in Valley of Flowers in Joshimath, Jim Corbett National Park, Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary, Nanda Devi National Park etc. One of the things that makes trekking in the Himalayas so particularly delightful is surely the constant change in the character of the plants and birds that one meets as one climbs higher and higher, and passes from one zone of altitude to another. The controlling effect of mountain chains and hill ranges on local climate and vegetation, and, therefore, on the distribution of animal life, is well-known. The Himalayas stretches across our northern frontier like a gigantic wall, cutting off the Indian plains of the Gangetic valley from the high plateau of Tibet and Central Asia. They bar the northward passage of the moisture laden wind currents, driven up seasonally from the south-west through the Indian Sea and Bay of Bengal to the land beyond. This character offers an outstanding example of the role that mountain ranges play in the character and local distribution of animal life and vegetation. Botanists have long remarked upon the general similarity of the flora of the higher slopes of such widely separated mountain ranges as the Himalayas, the Nilgiris and other hills of south-west India.

Truly, the Himalayas exercise profound influence on the climate of the sub-continent, as it has had in its past politic history. As an impassable barrier to the north, the Himalayas has a climate divide, effecting the air and water circulation system of the region. What we receive as a monsoon rain is large, because of the aerographic influence of the Himalayas on the Monsoon winds. All this and other factors have affected the flora and fauna of the region which can be best studied by taking Uttarakhand as sample of Himalayan flora and fauna. Himalayan flora and fauna is best exhibited by the biodiversity of Uttarakhand.

Though the variegated nature of Himalayan flora is enthralling, however, it may be recalled that Uttarakhand has nearly 23000 square miles of forest which is gradually diminishing as a result of which Himalayan fauna has also been badly affected because a forest is a source for ‘shelter and shade, fruit and flower, fodder and fuel. We are causing our own destruction. The significance of the fauna of Himalayas can be best described from the following ‘shloka’ of Gita (translation)—‘Among Daityas, I am Prahalad, among Calculators, I am mighty time, among Animals, I am tiger and among the birds I am Garuda, the vehicle of Vishnu’.

Uttarakhand is house of many wild animals and birds. Such as the ‘khakor’, barking deer, the ‘ghural’ or Indian Chamois, the wild bear and occasionally a boar or leopard, not to mention the Himalayan patridge ‘chakor’ and pheasants of different kinds, the finest of which is ‘monal,’ with its splendid blue tint. In the high Himalayas, snow leopard is found ever alert. His toes are well adapted for stalking on the snow. The hoofed animal produces crunchy sounds but the well padded and sheathed feet and toes of the snow leopard glide almost without a sound or a dimple in the snow. As per scientific exploration, bird families endemic to the Himalayas, not found in peninsular India, are broadbills (Enrylae midae), honey guides (Indica Tordae), finfoots (Heliorinthidee), and parrot bills. Another interesting aspect of Himalayan fauna is musk deer which is at the verge of extinction due to the musk which it carries in its gland which is used in some perfumes and is considered an aphrodisiac. The poor animal is hunted for this musk pod. Although killing is banned but clandestine trade goes on. A large number of tigers in Jim Corbett National Park and elephants in Rajaji Wildlife Sanctuary can be spotted.

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