The Himalayas stretch over 3,000 km in an arc through the countries of Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and the northeastern states of India. The total area of this hotspot is 741,706 km². The Himalayas include one of the tallest mountains on the earth - Mt. Everest. The Himalayas rise from less than 500 m to more than 8,000 meters in one range. So, within a couple hundred kilometers, you could be walking in alluvial grasslands or in broadleaf forests.
These huge differences in altitude make this mountain range very biodiverse because of all the different climates and ecosystems found here. In fact, it’s so biodiverse, there are 10,000 different species of plants in the Himalayas. Plus, 31.6 percent of the plants are endemic. Endemic means exclusively found in that area. In the entire hotspot, 3,310 species are endemic! That means that 3,310 of the entire world’s species are from the Himalayas' hotspot. There are many different birds that live in this area, but only 15 birds are endemic to the Himalayas.
Human Impacts on Biodiversity
Even if the Himalayas are hard to get to and very remote, humans are still having an impact on biodiversity in the Himalayas. In fact, humans have been living there for thousands of years. People who have come to live in these mountains have to clear out an area. And since logging is going on, the result is erosion. The forests are also being threatened because people that live there clear out the land with fires every summer. Sometimes fires go out of control and destroy even more biodiversity. Most of the remaining habitat is degraded because of the overgrazing of domestic animals such as cattle and yak. Habitat loss and degradation has left about 25 percent of the hotspot’s vegetation to use.
Inhabitants of the Himalayas
The Himalaya is one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. Many different species live in the Himalayas. Certain animals that live there are the wild yak, many, many orchids, and golden langurs. Only 12 mammals are endemic to the Himalaya region.
Other animals that live in the Himalayas are several species of deer, Asiatic wild dogs, sloth bears, and gaurs. The grasslands in the Himalayas contain some of the densest populations of tiger. Also, the Brahmaptura and Ganges rivers contain populations of Gangetic dolphin. You can also find some of the last remaining populations on earth of wild water buffalo and swamp deer. The snow leopard, which is very endangered, can also be found here. Some populations of plants in the Himalayas can survive up to 6,000 meters of altitude.
How This Hotspot is Protected
113,000 km² of land in the Himalayas is under protection, which is about 15 percent of the entire area. Six national parks have been made to help protect biodiversity in the Himalayas: Corbett National Park, Manas National Park, Kaziranga National Park, Chitwan National Park, and Sagarmatha National Park.