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Spectrum Tours » National parks in india »Hemis National Park

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Location: Eastern part of Ladakh, J&K.
Total Area: 600 sq. kms.
Visiting Season: May To October

A kaleidoscope of visual ../images, the cold and windy Hemis National Park is a land of splendid ruggedness. Snow-clad peaks soar against azure skies, sunlight breaks vividly on the bare mountain slopes, narrow rivers cut sharply through shadowy chasms and stark ridges rise knife-like from the landscape. The ecology of this barren region hangs in fine balance, easily disturbed by the poacher or the insensitive tourist.

The national park is named after a Buddhist monastery, the Hemis Gompa, situated near the park. The area of Hemis extend over 4,100 sq km in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir, encompassing the Markha and Rumbak Valleys and the twisting Zanskar River, which cuts a dramatic gorge. With an altitudinal range of 3,300 to 6,000 m, this cold desert hosts a remarkable variety of wildlife. The rarefied air and low temperatures are a constant challenge, but this almost treeless realm is a supreme example of nature's adaptability.

The key predator in the park, the endangered Snow Leopard, is an elusive but beautiful sight. Its thick coat of grey, fading to white on its underbelly, and pale markings are an excellent camouflage in the dappled landscape of snow and rock. The inaccessibility of its haunts keeps it largely hidden from human eyes, Intrepid poachers, braving the terrain and thy biting winds, have been known to seek out the leopard for its highly prized fur. Research has revealed a possible Snow Leopard population of 30~50 within the park. Other hunters are the Wolf and the Red Fox. In the 1980s, a pack of four Wild Dogs was spotted in the Markha Valley.

The Bharal, or Blue Sheep, grazes on the rich grasses of the higher levels of Hemis during summer. Its population in the park is about 4,000. There are fewer Ibex, sturdy goats with rather long horns, while two sheep, the small Ladakh Urial with heavily wrinkled horns and the Tibetan Argali, are on the endangered list, the former With a population, if only about 300. But several rodents, such as mice and voles, and other small animals, such as tailless mouse-hares, can be seen on the park's barren landscape. There are about 50 high-altitude species of birds, the park's offers spectacular trekking routes, but its wildlife is not easily spotted. Moreover, because of its terrain and climate, the park has a very short visiting season.

There is local antagonism towards the Snow Leopard and the Wolf, who prey on livestock, and suspicion of the herbivores that damage crops, but ongoing efforts aim to inculcate in the people here an understanding of the intrinsic value of the park and its animals.

The sanctuary is home to many species of wild animals like Snow Leopard (Ounce) (above), Wolf, Wild Dog (Dhole), Pallas's Cat, Red Fox, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Ibex, Ladakh Urial (Shapu), Tibetan Argali, Longtailed Marmot, Himalayan Mouse-hare . Here is an opportunity for the nature lover to study over 200 species of birds, chief among which are the Golden Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Little Owl, Common Kestrel

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