Different Types Of Himalayan Forests And Variety Of Mammal And Bird Species Living In It
Himalayan Coniferous Forests
Types of Himalayan Forests
The great Himalayas can be divided into three mountainous regions of Eastern, Central and Western Himalayas. The forests in these three regions are classified according to various factors such as composition of trees, elevation and rainfall.
The different types of Himalayan forests are Alpine Forests, Sub-tropical Rainforests, Deciduous Forests and Coniferous Forests
These are the ones lying between foot hills and timber line ( a line above which trees do not grow) of total Himalayas where we can find different wood species that we can find along Deciduous and Coniferous forests. In this region temperature is decreasing with increasing elevation.
Sub-ranges of Eastern Himalayas are mainly composed of these temperate rainforests. Here we can see lush evergreen forests which receive heavy rains during south-west monsoon period. This type of forest composed of wood species like Rhododendran, Aldar, Birch, Dwarf Willows, Laurels, Maples, Gnetum and Montanus.
Deciduous Forests (Broadleaf Forests)
This type of forests are broadleaf forests existing between the elevations of 600 m and 3000 m all along total Himalayas (Western, Central and Eastern Himalayas). This type of forests consist of wood species that grow in sub-tropical rainforests. Though the deciduous forests of Eastern Himalayas are enriched with variety of wood species, the lack of distribution of rainfall along sub-ranges of Western Himalayas affects rich growth of trees there.
Coniferous Forests (Needleleaf Forests)
Coniferous Forests are found between the elevations of 3000 m and 4,500 along total Himalayas and containing variety of wood species like Blue Pine, Deodar, Spruce and Silver Fir. These forests can adapt severe freezing temperature of Himalayas with heavy snowfalls on winter days as they are having cone shape with needle like leaves. Mostly these forests are lying just below the timber line of Himalayas.Timber line of the Himalayan forests usually lies at an altitude of 4000 m in Eastern Himalayas and the same lies at an altitude of 3500 m in Western ranges. However, most parts of the Himalayas above 5,500 m are completely free from any vegetation.
Variety of Mammal Species found in Himalayan Forests
There are about 300 species of mammals existing in the Himalayan forests.Asian Elephants, Rhinoceroses, Bengal Tigers, Panda, Brown Bear, Black Bear, Languor Monkeys, Bisons, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Yak, Musk Deers, Himalayan Marmots are spme of the important species. Of which Asian Elephants, Bengal Tigers, Black and Brown Bears, Bisons, Musk Deers are commonly found in Eastern Himalayan forests. Animals like Tibetan Yak, Wild Goats, Wolfs, Snow Leopards and Himalayan Marmots are found largely on Western and Central high ranges of Himalayas.
Asian Elephants are the largest terrestrial mammal of the Himalayan region. They are found largely on the deciduous forests of sub ranges of Eastern Himalayas. They habitat up to the elevation of 3,500 m. These herbivores animals mainly fed on grasses, twigs, leaves and barks. Each elephant requires 150 kg of grass, leaves and about 100 litres of water a day. The matured female elephants are always living in herds. However, the matured male elephants mostly live alone and they are always dangerous to humans. Gestation period of elephants is 22 months ans their average life span is 60 years. Only sad thing about elephants is as they are persecuted for their valuable tusks.
Bengal Tigers (Panthera Tigris)
Eastern Himalayas are also the home for the world largest population of Bengal Tigers. These are belonging to Felidae family of animals. Fast growing housing and deforestation in hill areas pushing out many of the tigers from their original habitat and most of them now have moved to the dense forests of the still higher ranges of Himalayas. At present only few hundreds of tigers are existing in the region and the Indian and Bengal government has made necessary steps to protect these endangered species. The matured specices are about 270 to 330 cm in length and weighing about 200 to 250 kg. With their velvette like skin stucture they can easily adapt severe cold conditions of Himalayas in winter season.
Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus)
These are belonging to Ursidae family and found largely in sub-tropical forests of both Eastern and Western Himalayas. They usually appear in sandy or reddish brown color. Male species grow up to 2.2 m long and female ones have maximum growth of 1.83 m in length. These are omnivores and eat grasses, roots, leaves, small insects and larger mammals like sheep and goat.
This is a rare specie of deer belonging to Moschidae family found on subranges of Eastern Himalayas.
Usually their coat color is sandy brown. Ears are large and round and tipped with yellow colored hairs.These animals are found at elevations of 2,200 to 4,200 m..They have no antlers and are relatively smaller than other species of deers. The matured musk deers can grow up to 100 cm long and 50 to 70 cm in height and have average body weight of 15 kg. Their hind legs are one third longer than their fore legs and special structure in foot helps to adapt climbing terrains. The adult musks have musk glands in between their sexual organ and navel and its seretions are used to attract female deers. These are herbivores animals which are eating grasses, leaves, mosses and lichens. Fox, wolf and lynx are some of its predators.
These are found in high ranges of Western Himalayas in South Central Asia and Tibetan Plateau. They can easily adapt severe cold conditions of Himalayas with their long shaggy hair and weigh up to 1200 kg with an average height of 6.5 ft to 7 ft. They are usually found between the elevations of 3500 m and 5000 m. These are herbivores animals and mainly fed on grasses, lichens and other plants. The gestation period of yaks is 9 months and their average life span is 20 years.
These are existing on upper ranges of Himalayas and relatively smaller than other species of leopards. They weigh up to 75 kg and adapt severe cold condition of Himalayas with their velvette like skin structure. The male species can be distinguished from their squarer and wider head than female ones have. These are solitary lives and have special foot structure to climb on terrains.
Different Bird species found in Himalayas
Among the total number of about 800 different species Ashy Drongo, Black Bulbul, Black Drongo,Golden Eagle, Snow Cocks, Black necked Crane, Peacock, Chestnut-breasted partridge and Himalayan Ruby Throat are some of interesting species of birds. The large number of lakes and abundant vegetation in sub-alpine and temperate forests of low ranges of Himalayas have been the ideal home for many domestic and migrating birds coming from various parts of the world to Himalayas. The altitudinal migration of birds in Himalayas also occur in winter seasons.
Black Drongo, also called as King crow, is largely found in Western Himalayas. Its family is Dicruridae. It's fully black colored bird which has a total length of 28 cm with a distinctive forked tail. Mainly eat small insects and fruits. It's an aggressive bird and never hesitates to fight against with other larger birds found wthin its territory.
This is almost like Black Drongo and belonging to the same family Dicruriade. They are originated from East Afghanistan and breeding in sub-ranges of Himalayas. Adult ones are dark grey in color as name implies. They protect their babies from larger birds as they are aggressive to fight against them. These are eating insects found along the forests. These are 29 cm long birds with a long forked tail and having short legs. We can also find many sub species on varying colors.
These are largely existing in rainforests of Eastern Himalayas and belonged to pheasant family. Indian Peafowl, Green Peafowl and White Peafowl are three important species of the bird. Usually the male birds are called as peacocks and the female ones are as peahens They are noted for their long greenish and brownish shining feathers and considered as national bird of India.
These are distributed from North East Afghanistan to Himalayas existing between the elevations of 600 m to 2,100 m. They found mostly along Western Himalayas. The bills and legs are in bright orange in color