Flora and Fauna in the Valley of Flowers
The beauteous Valley of Flowers harbours several rare and endemic species of flora and fauna, some of which are indigenous to the valley. This noted valley is hailed for the vivid flowering plant species that thrive here in abundance. The Valley of Flowers National Park is also an abode to several animals, birds and insects species like butterflies and bees that are attracted by the sweet nectar of the alpine flowers of the valley. Here is the detailed info regarding the flora-fauna of the Valley of Flowers National Park:
Flora at the Valley of Flowers
In 1987 the Botanical Survey of India visited the Valley of Flowers to study about the rich flora nurturing inside the National Park. During a research conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India in 1997 about five new species were discovered in VOF. The park has its own research nursery and seed/rhizome/tuber bank where rare and medicinal plants like Aconitum heterophyllum, A. falconeri, Arnebia benthamii, Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Gymnadenia orchides, Megacarpaea polyandra, Picrorhiza kurrooa, Podophyllum haxandrum and Taxus wallichiana are bred. This nursery is strategically located at Musadhar, near the entrance of the park. Research plots have also been set up to control the tall Himalayan knotweed Polygonum polystachium from spreading, without damaging other plants. The park’s area is dominated by sub-alpine forests of birch and rosy rhododendrons that can be found in abundance in Uttarakhand. A decade-long study conducted by Prof. C.P. Kala from 1993 onwards tells that the Valley of Flowers is blessed with 520 species of high altitude plants, out of which 498 are flowering plants.
Fauna at the Valley of Flowers
Apart from the myriad plant species, VOF is also known for being a home to few rare or endangered wild animals such as Tahr, Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Red Fox, Common Langur, Bharal, Serow, Himalayan Black Bear, Himalayan Brown Bear and Pica (Mouse Hare). In Prof. C.P. Kala’s research, a total of 13 species of mammals were recorded in the park and its nearby areas. Although, he only sighted 9 species namely the northern plains grey langur Semnopithecus entellus, flying squirrel Petaurista petaurista, Himalayan black bear Ursus thibetanus (VU), red fox Vulpes vulpes, Himalayan weasel Mustela sibirica, Himalayan yellow-throated marten Martes flavigula, Himalayan goral Naemorhedus goral, Himalayan musk deer Moschus leucogaster, Indian chevrotain Moschiola indica, Himalayan thar Hemitragus jemlahicus (VU) and serow Capricornis sumatraensis (VU).
Birds spotted in the Valley of Flowers
The park also features some important avifaunal species including the Himalayan Golden Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Snow Partridge, Himalayan Snow Cock, Himalayan Monal, Snow Pigeon and the Sparrow Hawk. Although the area falls within the West Himalayan Endemic Bird Area but no such surveys specific to birds have been carried in the valley. In 1993 about 114 species were seen in the Nanda Devi Park. Some of the commonly spotted birds include lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, Himalayan vulture Gyps himalayensis, yellow billed and red billed choughs Pyrrhocorax graculus and P. pyrrhocorax, koklass pheasant Pucrasia macrolopha, Himalayan monal pheasant Lophophorus impejanus, scaly-bellied and yellow-nape woodpeckers Picus squamatus and P. flavinucha, great and bluethroated barbets Megalaima virens and M. asiatica, snow pigeon Columba leuconota and spotted dove Stigmatopelia chinensis.
Reptiles and butterflies in Valley of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers is not rich in reptile population and one can only spot the high altitude lizard Agama tuberculata, Himalayan ground skink Leiolopisma himalayana and Himalayan pit viper Gloydius himalayanus here. Since the valley remains blossomed with many flowering plants, wild bees and several butterfly species can be noted here. Some of the butterfly species found in VOF are lime butterfly Papilio demoleus demoleus, common yellow swallowtail Papilio machaon, common Mormon Papilio polytes romulus, spangle Papilio protenor protenor and common blue apollo Parnassius hardwickei.