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Tibetan Flora: Tibetan Fauna:

The immense differences in altitude in Tibet create a spread of ecosystems from alpine to subtropical. Tibet has 6,400 speicies of plants including 40 species considered rare.  It has over 1,000 plants and flowers used for herbal medicine.

Central Tibet

Juniper trees and willow are common in the valleys of central Tibet and it is likely you will spot flowers like the pansy and oleander. The lovely indigenous flowers like the tsi-tog (a light pink, high altitude bloom) are a magnificent find. Apple, peach, pear, and apricot trees are cultivated in the river valleys.

Northern Tibet
Vegetation on the Northern Plateau is extremely sparse, consisting for the most part of grasses and shrubs.

Southern Tibet
At lower altitude in the south, there are vast and glorious forests of pines, firs and spruces.

Eastern Tibet
The flora of Tibet is concentrated in the valleys on the Brahmaputra, Indus, and Sutlej. The eastern part of Tibet has greater rainfall giving it an amazing range of flora from coniferous forests to deciduous forests, with oaks, elms and birches to subtropical plants and flowers.


Himalayan Mountain Range
The mountain slopes of Tibet house dozens of plants and flowers. On the south slope of Middle Himalayas and southeast Tibet, the abundance centre of Tibetan flower plants extends from 3500 meters in altitude to the alpine zone. Many varieties of magnificent and colorful flowers ornament the meadows, thickets and dark coniferous forests. The blossoms of Prunus mira annually cover the south-eastern plateau an third-dimensional color, often short-lived and blanketed by spring snows. Afterward you can see the  rhododendrons of sub-alpine forests and alpine thickets. Due to the density of ultra violet rays, the colors at higher elevations are often those deep violet, purple, yellow and orange that can only be found closer to the sun.

Tibetan Wild Flowers
The typical species include; Primula cawdoriana, Sinoplantagines var. fengxiangiana, Cyananthus lobatus, Saxifraga spp., Polygonum griffithii; Meconopsis horridula var. racemosa, M. Integrifolia, Pedicularis bella and Fletcherii.

The distribution of Tibetís wild flowers is quite extensive. Over 5000+ senior plants, 39 of which have been listed as natural plants under state key protection grow in Tibetan areas.  When you see Incarvillea and Iris on the barren slopes, the multi-colored rhododendrons in the forest or on a mountainous incline, or the beautiful orchids-epiphytic or terrestrial, you will be surprised by the powerful persistence of nature.

Not surprisingly, the wild flowers of Tibet grow in very diverse concerts. Depending on the extreme weather and air at high elevation such as low temperature, strong wind and high radiation, the plants contract their morphology of shortening, creeping, cushion, needle shape, wild stem or hairiness.

Tibetan Plants and Herbal Medicine
Some of Tibetís unique wild flowers are used for medicinal concoctions. Tibetans have been using this flora for thousands of years to cure all form of diseases and ailments.



The Tibetan region claims 798 species of vertebrates and 2,305 species of insects. The Panda was found in what used to be Tibetan ranges. Over 125 animals in Tibet are on the list of rare species under government protection. They include Tibetan antelope, yak, snow chicken and black-neck crane. Musk deer, wild sheep, wild goat, wild ass, yak, and Tibetan antelope are common in mountainous areas. Other large mammals found are the leopard, tiger, several kinds of bear, wolf, fox, and monkey.

Marmots are often seen perched up on their hind legs sniffing the air curiously outside their burrows. Pika, or Himalayan mouse hares are common. Sit by the side of the road quietly and you will see them running about.

Tibetan Birds
Tibet has over 30 endemic birds and 480 species have been recorded in the plateau. Birds include the black necked crane, bar headed goose and lammergeyer as well as grebes, pheasants, snao cocks, partridges. bar-headed goose, gull, teal, and other species of waterfowl, as well as pheasant and sand grouse. Several rare and endangered species may become extinct at the current rate of deforestation in Tibetan areas. For example, the Himalayan mountain quail, Ophrysia superciliosa, the highest dwelling bird disappeared in 1868. This bird fed on grasses, insects and berries. Why did it die out?

Endangered Wildlife
Hunting and poaching of wildlife for commercial gain is a principle threat to the survival of various wildlife species in Tibet. Stand up and be counted if you witness such unthinking behavior. Express your views. Rare animal skins and other parts such as deer antlers, Tibetan gazelle head, and even leopard skins are sold openly in the market such as in Labrang, Amdo (Qinghai). Without any environmental education or legal penalties imposed on these hunters, they won't stop until all the animals are gone.

Some people in Tibet use dynamites in rivers and lakes to catch fish, apparently oblivious to the eco-damage. Such activities not only kill the fishes in a way that makes many uneatable, but also poisons the whole aquatic eco-system.

In this country where the per capita income is $30 US it is hard for some people to resist the temptation of selling rare animal parts for cold cash. A snow leopard coat can fetch $20,000 US in the black market.
We have to ask what sort of human beings would support the killing and extinction of these magnificent animals. Tibetan Buddhism teaches not even to kill a worm because it could be your mother or a relative. Sadly, deer antlers, musk, tiger and leopard bones and other parts of animals are often used in traditional Chinese medicine. Is money and stuff important enough to rob the earth anf future generations of the benefits these animals offer the ecosystem? The endangered species of Tibet, such as snow leopard, giant panda, black-necked crane, and wild yak should NEVER be hunted.

Wild Yaks on Decline
Yaks look like very hairy steers, but they are actually in the ox family.
The horns grow up to 20 inches long in females, and 40 inches in males. They come in an assortment of colors from black to brown to white with black spots to the fabled golden color. The male yaks can weigh 2000 pounds or better while the females are usually around 800 pounds or more when carrying a calf. more detail on wild yaks.

Sadly, in Northwestern Qinghai Province less than 10,000 wild yaks can be found now in nonwestern Qinghai province as human activities have increasingly been disturbing their habitats, according to the outcome of a 2003 survey. Tibetan Wild Yaks are on the endangered species list. more about conservation from Saving Wild Places.

The survey by the Provincial Wildlife and Nature Reserve Management Bureau noted that compared with the early 1960s, the number of yaks on Qinghai plateau has reduced by half and most of them now live in the prefectures of Yushu, Golog and Haixi in the central-south, southeastern and western Qinghai province.

The wonderful scene of hundreds of wild yaks galloping together no longer exists. Now only a dozen can occasionally be found haunting very remote areas. The habitats for yaks in Qinghai scatter mainly on the upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River which is 4,000-5,000 above sea level, and the 1.4-million-sq-km cold desert hemmed in by Kunlun, A'erjin and Qilian Mountain ranges

These days, however, solely in Wild Yak Ravine around Golmud city, in northwestern Qinghai, can local people sometimes spot the wild yaks in large numbers. 2009 news includes Golmud wild yaks dying in numbers unseen before. Come see the WILD wild yaks before they are no longer accessible. more about yaks. Taxonomy of yaks.

The International Yak Association
This association exists for the purpose of advancing awareness of the Yak and for benefiting its members through education and communication. Check out their fun fairs and bovine events! As Yaks are still quite rare on a national scale, we rely on our members to come together with their experiences and knowledge so that we may continue to learn about this multi-faceted bovine. Located in the USA. click here

Tibetan Mastiff
The Tibetan Mastiff is one of the largest dog breeds. It is found in a heavier mastiff type and a more moderately sized mountain type. With its thick, wide mane it is often described as a lion dog. Its double coat is long and often fluffy, and it is found in a wide variety of colors from solid black to tri-color with the rarest being white. It has a sturdy bone structure and large, wide head. It can sometimes reach heights up to 31+ inches (80+cm) at the withers, although the normal for the breed is typically in the 25 to 28 inch (61 to 72 cm) range. You will see these dogs in many villages in Tibetan areas. They are usually tied up as they are used mainly as guard dogs. Until recently no Tibetan would ever consider selling his Mastiff, as their dogs are considered a member of their family. However demand and the holy dollar has tempted even the nomads. DO NOT approach dogs in Tibet or China as rabies is common.





















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