FLORA and FAUNA
The flora and fauna of Lahaul and Spiti has evolved to survive in the cold and dry, high-altitude, low-oxygen environs of this cold alpine desert.
Flora: In Spiti, the main vegetation is grass, small shrubs such as hippophae, rosa, ephedra, salix, artemesia and potentilla, and trees, which are short and stunted. The vegetation in the area is extremely sparse because the entire valleys is covered under snow for six months of the year, and there is practically no rainfall. Recent efforts at greening the valley can be seen in plantations of willows and poplars around hamlets and the banks of the rivers. Good mangroves can be seen around Hurling, Poh, Tabo, Shichling, Kaza, Lossar and Pin valley. Spiti is also rich in herbs and rare medicinal plants. As many as four hundred varieties of these plants and herbs have been identified in the valley.
Fauna: The most commonly found animals are Himalayan blue sheep\Bharal, locally called Nabu, Himalayan fox, snow wolf, red fox, Tibetan woolly hare and Kokar, which is a rodent of the size of a porcupine. The Himalayan Ibex, locally known as Tangrol, is the best-known game animal to the Spitians. It will not be unusual for a trekker to come across large herds of Himalayan ibices, especially in the higher regions beyong Mikkim and Thango villages in the Pin valley. The snow leopard, locally called Jhaptu or Shin, is a dreaded animal found in the higher reaches of the Pin valley. This beautiful cat occasionally comes down to human dwellings in search of prey - a goat or a sheep - and hence is a menace to the villagers. Marmots, snow rabbits and weasels are also seen in the valley. Snakes and reptiles are virtually unknown in Spiti. However, some lizards and some wheatish grey and yellowish snakes have been reportedly spotted below Lari in the valley. The birds that populate the Lahaul and Spiti valley are the Himalayan snow cock, Chukor, Partridges, hill pigeons, red brown crows, red robin, griffins, vultures, blue rock pigeons, snow pigeon and Choughs, among others. Spiti is also a summer breeding ground for Siberian migratory ducks, which migrate to lower and warmer areas in winter.