The Himalayas: Source of life for half the world’s population

One look at the mighty landscape and towering snow-peaks, and we are mesmerized forever. Stunning mountains, dense temperate forests, dazzling snow that reflects the sunlight, deep alluring chasms,  winding rivers, rich varied bio-diversity and innumerable legends; all these describe the incredible Himalayas.  ‘Hima’ meaning snow and ‘Alaya’ meaning  ‘abode’ in Sanskrit, the mountains are a major part of the lives of Tibetians, Indians, Nepalis and many others who live in proximity to these grand mountains

The Great Himalayas - Image of Himalayan Mountains - Aerial View
This photo “The Great Himalayas” @flickr from Karunakar Rayker
made available under an Attribution license

Be it the Shivaliks (the foothills of the mountains) or the highest peaks (Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and others), the Himalayas have been an inspiration to poets, a fascination to tourists and a source of life to more than half the population on earth.

A source of Livelihood

According to the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), the combined drainage basin of the Himalayas is home to some 3 billion people in 18 countries, almost half the world’s population. The mountain range is the source of 6 of Asia’s great rivers, including the Yangtze, Indus and Ganges and home to thousands of species of animals and plants. The importance of perennial rivers like Ganges and Brahmaputra is well known and billions depend on the great Himalayan basin for agriculture. . With nearly 15000 glaciers, several lakes, streams and small rivers  this range hosts the source of livelihood for countless people

Bio-diversity of the Himalayan range – Flora

The Himalayan range is a unique geographical area where rich bio-diversity exists. There is a permanent ‘snow line’ at the highest altitude which gives rise to perennial rivers like the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The   altitude, rainfall and soil conditions along with snow results in distinct and diverse flora and fauna.

Oak forests, Pine forests, apple trees, dwarf pomegranate trees, orchids, deodar trees, blue bamboos, coral berry plants, Himalayan birches and several herbal plants are found here..

Bio-diversity of the Himalayan range – Fauna

Whether it is the elusive endangered mountain snow leopard or the unique Himalayan marmot, these majestic mountains house a number of reptiles, mammals, birds and insects like the Grey wolf, Tibetan fox, Eurasian lynx, Asian gold cat, Red  panda, Grey  languor and Wood  mouse apart from Jackdaws, Ravens, Bar-headed geese and Peacocks  which add a colorful diversity and beauty to this region.

Two unique reptiles found here are the Indian Rock Python and Tibetian Spring snake.

Recently, the melting of glaciers and erosion of the  soil of this mountain range has been  a reason of  worry to the entire world. Efforts to conserve the bio-diversity and ecological balance of the Himalayas have been initiated on a global scale with conservationists and scientists from various domains joining hands. It’s an endeavour that will have a great impact on the future of human kind itself since it will work towards preservation of this beautiful region which is a giver of life to countless species of life, including human beings.

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