Biodiversity - 2nd stop: the Eastern Himalayas
Himalaya or “abode of snow” in Sanskrit stretches over 2400 km long and 250-400 km wide. This mountain range covers an area of approximately 600,000 km² area lies between the Indian subcontinent and the Tibetan plateau in south-east Asia.
The Himalayas is home to the highest peaks of the world (14 in total rising to over 8000 meters including the highest, Mount Everest) and contains unparalleled biodiversity, a wealth which holds of exceptional neo-morphological conditions the region.
The Himalayas is the region of the world where climatic contrasts are strongest: the effects of monsoon and changes in altitude adds the collision of the Indian subcontinent and Eurasia that has contacted two niches ; the curvature of the Himalayan arc has added to the variety of bioclimatic conditions (climate, rainfall, altitude, soil type) that goes along with that of ecosystems: each climatic niche generates typical flora and fauna.
If part of the fauna and flora has been identified, much remains to be discovered. Dozens of forest are still unexplored in this inaccessible region. Over the past decade, more than 353 new species have been discovered according to the latest report from WWF, including 244 plant species, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, 2 birds, 2 mammals and 60 invertebrates.
Some figures to understand the incredible biodiversity that contains this mountain range:
- Flora: 10 000 species of which 3160 endemic species
- Birds: 800 species, only 15 are endemic
- Mammals: 300 species including a dozen endemic
- Reptiles: 175 species of which 50 are endemic
- Amphibians: 150 species of which 40 are endemic
- Freshwater Fish: 270 species, including 30 endemic
But this hotspot is not spared from human activities. The presence of man in the Himalayan Mountains existed for thousands of years, but the increase in the global market encourages people to draw benefits in natural resources and promote immigration in these regions. Logging, growing areas, overgrazing, poaching, climate change contribute to the erosion of biodiversity.
Only 133,000 km² are protected either 15% of the hotspot. A too low rate compared to the vastness of the Himalayan chain and its treasures. A rate should be increased including increased reserves because these conservation measures are crucial for best protect biodiversity in the long term.