Ladakh wildlife consists of some of the rarest and most exotic animals and birds of the Himalayan plateau. The alpine climate and the Rocky Mountains have supported a range of rich wildlife in the Leh Ladakh region of Kashmir.
Some of the most exotic Himalayan birds can be found in the Ladakh region. Tibetan snow cocks, griffon vultures, lammergeyers or bearded vultures, etc are some of the native birds of Ladakh. One can also find a number of migratory birds in Ladakh including the charming Black-necked Crane.
The wildlife in Ladakh region of India consists of the following animals.
Yak, wild ox, is the largest animal of the Ladakh region. It can be easily seen grazing in the Himalayan valley at heights of over 6,000 meters. An herbivore, it has long black hair tinged with gray at the muzzle. Also, wild yaks migrate to lower regions of the Himalayas in winters.
Nyan is the largest wild sheep found in this region and is also known by the name of Big-Horned sheep or the Great Tibetan sheep. Nyan can be easily seen on the heights above 4,500 m in northeastern Ladakh.
Urial is the smallest sheep of the world and is usually found at a height of 3000-4000 m. They have horns measuring 99 cm, which is almost as long as their bodies. Slowly depleting in number, they are highly vulnerable to local hunters.
This gray-blue sheep is found at altitudes higher than 6000 m. Known as Bharal or Blue Sheep because of its color, it has qualities of both sheep and goats.
Ibex is one of the most beautiful goats found in this region. It is known for its huge horns curving backwards in a spiral that can be long as 147 cm. These goats usually move in herds of 10-16.
One of the most renowned as well as most endangered animals of Ladakh is Chiru or Tibetan Antelope. It is hunted for its fine underbelly wool used to make Shahtoosh, an incredibly soft woolen fiber. It is usually seen in the Aksai Chin region in small herds. To protect this endangered species, the government has banned trade in Shahtoosh.
The main predator found in the Himalayan region is the beautiful Snow Leopard. Another endangered species, it is hunted for its silver gray pelt. It preys on the wild sheep and goats of the Ladakh region.
Some other animals forming a part of the Ladakh wildlife are the Himalayan Brown Bear, the Himalayan Black Bear, the Himalayan Wolf, the King or Himalayan Wild Ass etc.