The Eastern Himalayas is a region that harbours thousands of different species, including over 10,000 plants, 900 species of bird, and 300 species of mammal. Many of which are endangered or critically endangered.
© WWF / Seth JACKSON
There are 643 species of butterfly found in Nepal alone. The great diversity relates to the incredible bioclimatic variation of the Himalayan region; from tropical and subtropical, to tundra and arctic.
* Species forming a key element of the food chain
* Species which help the stability or regeneration of habitats
* Species demonstrating broader conservation needs
...or for people
* Species important for the health and livelihoods of local communities
* Species exploited commercially
* Species that are important cultural icons.
In the Eastern Himalayas 163 species are considered threatened, of which 19 mammal, 28 bird, 17 reptile, and 12 amphibian species are considered priority species.
- Greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)
- Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
- Takin (Budorcas taxicolor)
- Wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee)
- Swamp Deer (Rucervus duvaucelii)
- Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)
- Snow leopard (Unicia unicia or Panthera unicia)
- Clouded leopard (Neoflis nebulosa)
- Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)
- Rufous-necked hornbill (Aceros nipalensis)
- Chestnut-breasted partridge (Arborophila mandellii)
- Jerdon’s babbler (Chrysomma altirostre)
- Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis)
- Pallas's Fish-eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus)
Many species are at risk of extinction in the Himalayas, but new species are also being discovered. The bioclimatic diversity of the region, combined with the remoteness of many of its peaks and valleys means that new species are being discovered every year. Since 1998 over 350 new species have been recorded in the region.
© Martin Harvey / WWF
Greater one-horned Rhino
© WWF / Christy Williams
The greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) is a conservation success story. With WWF's help the species has been brought back from the brink of extinction. However, the species still faces the ever-present threat of poaching for its horn.
Legend has it that when Lama Drukpa Kunley (‘The Divine Madman’) visited Bhutan in the 15th century, hundreds of people gathered to witness his powers. On being urged to perform, the saint demanded that he first be served an entire cow and a whole goat for lunch. These were produced, and he promptly set about devouring the animals; leaving only the bones. After a loud burp, he picked up the skull of the goat and stuck it onto the skeleton of the cow. Then; with a snap of his fingers he commanded the bones to “rise-up and graze on the mountainside”. To the audiences amazement the beast obeyed and ran off into the meadows to feed. This animal became known as dong gyem tsey (the Takin: the nation animal of Bhutan).
- Climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation will be mainstreamed into the management of river systems.
- A mosaic of over 7 million hectares of high conservation value forest, grassland and wetland will be secured, connecting 1,500 km of conservation area.
- Viable populations of iconic and threatened species will be secured and will live in harmony with human communities.