The Biological Grandeur of the Eastern Himalayas
The Himalayas have yielded a "treasure trove" of new species -- 350 of them documented in just the past 10 years. But that amazing biodiversity is threatened by climate change, according to the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF as it is known internationally. While impressive, those new species only add to the staggering list of life known to inhabit the Eastern Himalayas: 10,000 species of plants, 300 mammals, 977 birds, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians and 269 types of freshwater fish. That's all on top of its most "charismatic" species: Bengal tigers, greater one-horned rhinos, snow leopards, Asian elephants, red pandas, takins, golden langurs and Gangetic dolphins.
The group has just published a new report about the issues facing this rich region, The Eastern Himalayas Where Worlds Collide, an accounting of the newly discovered species in this remote and inhospitable (to humans, anyway) corner of the world. The rugged Eastern Himalayas stretch from Bhutan and northeast India to the far north of Myanmar, and through Nepal and the southern parts of Tibet, in China.
"This enormous cultural and biological diversity underscores the fragile nature of an environment which risks being lost forever unless the impacts of climate change are reversed," said Tariq Aziz, the leader of WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative. "People and wildlife form a rich mosaic of life across this rugged and remarkable landscape, making it among the biologically richest areas on Earth. But the Himalayas are also among the most vulnerable to global climate change."
What follows is a look into the biological diversity of the Himalayas, from the world's smallest deer to a 100-million-year old gecko.