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We Need To Protect Ladakh, And Time Is Running Out

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#Ladakh is still the gorgeous valley tucked between the Stok glacier of the Trans-Himalayan ranges on one side and the Jaskar on the other, at an elevation of more than 3,000 meters above sea level. The area is bustling with activity as a result of it being a Union Territory (UT), and as a result, so is its delicate ecosystem, which is quickly becoming overworked, overburdened, and exhausted.

Ladakh is a special case that has the best of both worlds because it is geologically located on two continental plates: the Eurasian plate and the Indian sub-continental plate.

The valley, now home to just over one lakh people, was once the center of thriving biodiversity, flora, and fauna. The Bactrian Camel, Brown Bear, Ladakhi Ural, Lynx, Red Fox, Siberian Ibex, Snow Leopard, Tibetan Antelope, Tibetan Argali, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan Wild Ass, Tibetan Wolf, Wild Dog, and Wild Yak were formerly the dominant species in the sparsely populated UT.

According to Padma Rigzin, a Ph.D. student at Shiv Nadar University, historically the people were traders who traveled to Tibet with barley, the primary food crop and cash crop in the area, and brought wool back. But now that everything has changed, the region relies heavily on tourism.

The surrounding area is altering substantially, despite the Trans-Himalayan ranges showing widespread signs of global warming. Agriculture-related fields have been mostly replaced by opulent hotels and upscale restaurants as the economy, which was once focused on agriculture, has transitioned to tourism.

While increasing the economy, tourism is degrading the local soil due to the increase in traffic. Off-roading has become a significant challenge for communities whose daily existence depends on the environment. Researchers are concerned that visitors to the city drive dangerously and show little respect for the neighborhood. The most obvious example is in the Hanle, Sham, and other locations where grasslands are struggling and the soil quality is declining.

The difficulties are further made worse by changes in the nomadic way of life. Prior to switching to goats, residents of Hanle and neighboring areas raised sheep and yak for wool, which is considered a future problem for the region. Goats, on the other hand, are known for eating grass from the root up, which causes soil to lose its texture and the growing powers perfected over millions of years. Sheep and yak, on the other hand, are adapted to the cold environment of the desert and devour grass while renewing the soil.

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