The highest, youngest & largest chain of mountains in the world, the Himalayan range is one of the most fascinating and spectacular natural wonders on earth. It is more than that: it is one of the richest stores of animal life. For instance, it is remarkable that almost one third of the world’s mammalian species that may be called true mountain animals are native to these mountains.
Jammu and Kashmir with its variety of geographical regions, climates and vegetation has many delights to offer the wildlife enthusiast. Perhaps no animal better epitomises the character and concerns of the mountain environment than the snow leopard, a beautiful and elusive survivor from the frigid Pleistocene era. Though its range is immense, extending over the entire Himalayan range, it is most advantageously sought in Jammu and Kashmir especially in the high ranges. Another rare animal is the Hangul or Kashmir stag, one of the most endangered species of red deer in the world. An enigmatic mammal is the Bharal; the controversy over whether it is a sheep or a goat is not yet settled. Many unique species of antelope, goat and sheep are found in the state.
In winter high-altitude bird species move to the lower valleys and into the tourist’s purview. Cinnamon sparrows, the black and yellow grosbeak, black bulbuls and Monal Pheasants (the male splendidly coloured) may be seen now. At this time, too large troops of the impressive Himalayan gray Langur visit for the duration.
But nothing strikes the eye and imagination so much as in spring and summer, when the long foothills and deep valleys awake to life. Now also awakes the imposing Himalayan black bear and as the winter avifauna return to higher quarters the birds of the summer return. Among these is the lovely golden oriole. The Langurs and Hangful, too make their way to higher valleys that are not however inaccessible
Though wildlife conservation in Ladakh began fairly recently, There is so much here that is not found in the lower ranges. Ladakh’s ecosystem, lying at the confluence of three zoogeographic zones, is fascinating and uniquely varied. A dozen important mammals and over 100 species of birds make their home in this rugged terrain most of them, though endangered or rare.
The rare mammals of the region include the Kashmir stag or Hangul (Cervus elephus hanglu), the Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus), the Tibetan Antelope or Chiru (Panthelops hodgsoni), the Tibetan Gazelle (Procapra picticaudata), the Serow (Capricorms sumatraensis), the Markhor (Capra alconeri), the Amon, the Wild Yak (Bos grunniens), the Tibetan Wild Ass, the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) and the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Ibex (Capra siberica) to name a few. During the year 2002 the number of Hangul in dachigam national park has been reported as 483.
some of the rare and threatened birds found in the area include exotic species like the Himalayan Golden Eagle (Acquila chrysatos), the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), the Monal Pheasant (Lophopherus impejanus), the Koklas (Pucrasia macrolopha), the Western Tragopan (Trogopan malanocephalus), the Black necked Crane (Grus nigricollis), the Himalayan Snow Cock (Tetrogallus himalayensis.) and the Bar-Headed Goose (Anser indicus).
Migratory Water birds include Duck, Geese and Swans. The most common water birds which visit the state during winter months are Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Common Teal (Anas crecca), Pintail (Anos acuta), Red Crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Greylag Goose (Anser), Wigeon (Anas penelope), Shoveller (A. clypeata), Garganay (A. guerguedula), Coot (Fulica atra) and Gadwall (Anas ctripera). Peak population of migratory birds during the year 2002 in Hakoora has been reported as 3.82 lakhs.