Wildlife of Ladakh - A Photoessay.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Well half of the pictures you see below will hardly qualify as wildlife but this name has a better ring to it and it is true in a broader sense. ;)
Ladakh being one of the highest inhabited plateaus and situated amidst formidable mountain ranges makes it one of the preferred destinations to witness remoteness in its truest forms. The same remoteness allows for chance sightings of wildlife just by the roadside. Over the 12 days I was wandering in Ladakh I saw many kinds of birds and animals. Here are few that I managed to capture.

No super wildlife shots here, as you know I am a Landscape photographer and the wildlife seems to be part of a bigger picture in my compositions. I hope you enjoy the tiny specks in the view.

1. Kiang or the Tibetan Wild Ass
The largest of the wild asses, kiang is found in the Tibetan Plateau living between altitudes of 4000 to 7000 meters. These animals are surprisingly athletic and move with amazing grace. With its association to the ass family, I did not expect them to look any pretty bu they do. Kiangs are frequently spotted in Changthang region of Ladakh.

I spotted these kiangs while going through the little traversed route of Mahe - Chushul - Spangmik.

Kiang / Tibetan Wild Ass

2. Ladakh Urial
First things first, do you spot them in the picture below? Their camouflage is freaking awesome. Well these are the Ladakh Urial I suppose, correct me if I am wrong. Soptted them on the way to Tso Moriri from Leh.

Asiatic Ibex

3. Wild Hare
Well again near the Chushul region, we noticed sudden movement on the land in front of us only to find these little creatures running away from us. With great difficulty I managed to capture this one with my 18-55 lens.

Wild Hare

4. Bactrian Camel / Double Hump Camel
Well, as the name says these camels have two humps as opposed to the single hump camels found elsewhere. Only a small population of Bactrian Camels were left here in Ladakh long ago which continue till date but all of them have been domesticated. The only surviving wild counterparts of Bactrian camels exist in Mongolia which I hope to see someday. This was shot in Hunder of Nubra Valley.

Bactrian Camel/ double hump camel

5. Black Necked Crane
The Chushul marshes are apparently where the black necked cranes migrate every summer. Luckily we spotted few here and there. The marshes were looking amazing for sure.

Black Necked Crane

6. Yak
Nothing much to say about them. :)
Spotted them between Loma and Nyoma after crossing Mahe that is.

7. Himalayan Marmot
These very cute looking creatures similar in appearance to the beavers live in the high mountains and can be found quite often by the roadside in the Changthang region or any place with some grass. Spotted these while returning from Pangong to Leh.

Himalayan Marmot

8. Ruddy Shelduck /Brahmini
I have no clue if I have identified them right or not. Spotted them while going to Tso Moriri.

Ruddy Shelduck/ brahmini

9. Sheep
Technically not wildlife, but look how small they look in front of the grand landscape there! Cattle is one of the primary sources of livelihood in Ladakh from what I have seen.


10. Horses
The horses are left freely here and probably they return back to their owners by night fall. Spotted these at many places but this was shot on the farther end of Pangong towards China.


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  1. Dear Neelima
    I am spellbound !! Beautiful composition, the animal and the wilderness, Not those close ups of animals right on you zoom lenses .
    Have anice day

  2. oh d piccys r amazin :O n especially d marmot is so damn kewttt :O :D.

  3. Superbly captured and narrated, thank you for sharing.. :D


  4. Brilliant...I have noticed only marmot, sheep and yak...I will share my marmot's cute pic on fb

  5. Great collection of pics. I'm short of words

  6. Lovely images as always...especially like the Marmot.

    And of course in some, the landscape completely obviates the wildlife :) lol!

  7. This is really stunning work!! Keep it up!!

  8. We are planning a trip to Ladakh and Leh by mid Feb, am not sure if the ways open by then, when did you go? Coz as much I know the roads were (are) blocked ?

    Amazing pics anyway, they made me all the more curious about the place!

  9. Hey, how did i miss this! loved it... good set of info as well.. btw, i find that the yaks are spotted in mettalic blue in my screen..:P sending the screen shot to you.. ;)

    - Arti

  10. Dear Neelima Ji
    I have gone through many travel blogs and found that most of bloggers provides routs, mode of transport and itenary also.
    This kind of information is helpfull to the followers.
    You have good sense to look through the lance.

  11. Awesome pictures...i am preparing for the Aug Kullu to Khardung la cycling expedition . Any tips for a first timer?

    Ushnish Ghosh told me about this awesome blog of yours..

  12. Beautiful pictures with stunning background of Ladakh...The goats seem to be very adventurous themselves.. :)

  13. Excellent Photographs.. Did you get to see any Rock Paintings ?

  14. Photo 2. These are bharal or blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) not Urial. horn, coat colour and shape is different. Though english given name is sheep they actually have characteristics of both goat and sheep and are in a class of their own. Very at home on cliffs, and also on rocks such as these. I share your love for Ladakh so enjoy seeing it through another's eyes. Thanks.

  15. Beautiful photos of Ladakh. Nice blog and thanks to share.


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