The Ladakh Environment: Ladakh has a fragile eco-system which sustains, besides the sparse population, some rare fauna and flora which are especially adapted to the peculiar environment. This is aptly described in the document brought out by the WWF (India) under the title “Saving a prized gift” which reads as under:
“For long years, the region had remained relatively isolated and untouched by developments in the world beyond. A unique genetic pool has evolved in the region, specially adapted to the harsh environment. The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 recognizes most of the species found in the region as endangered.”
Among Ladakh’s most important fauna are the: Bactrian Camel, Brown Bear, Ladakhi Urial, Lynx, Red Fox, Siberian Ibex, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Antelope, Tibetan Argali, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Wild Ass, Tibetan Wolf, Wild Dog, and the Wild Yak.
And among its indigenous and visiting wetlands birds are the endangered Black-necked Crane and Bar-headed Goose, and the Ruddy Shelduck, Gargeny, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveller, Eurasian Pigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, and Red-Crested Pochard. Other birds found in the area are: the Golden Eagle, Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeler, Osprey, Snow Partridge, Sparrow Hawk, Steppe Eagle and the Tibetan Sand Grouse.
And far too many to mention by name are the more than 500 wild medicinal plants - many rare species - used by traditional Ladakhi and Tibetan medical practitioners (Amchi) and in demand by today’s pharmaceutical companies.
The Ladakh environment deservers your special care and consideration so that this fragile eco-system is not disturbed to the disadvantage of its unique and endangered wild-life. The following steps are especially recommended to be followed in this regard:
- Do not permit your car drivers to drive off in wildlife areas, particularly on the Chang-thang plateau;
- Do not walk off the main trekking routes ;
- Do not throw any rubbish including clothes, metals pieces, paper and plastics in any safari/trekking area, nor permitting your safari/trekking staff to do so;
- Do not throw any waste in animal burrows (e.g. marmot), or in any waterways.
- Do not camp along lake-sides and marshlands as the tourist season coincides with the breeding season of migratory birds;
- Do not approach, or photograph nesting birds from close distance. Use only long-focal length (telephoto) lenses for photography of such birds, and your camera flash must be turned off!