Sprawling over a massive 4,400 square kilometer area, the Hemis High Altitude National Park is located in the Eastern Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and also happens to be the largest National Park of South Asia. Initially founded in 1981, this park is home to a number of endangered species of mammals, including the Snow leopard. Lying within the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe eco-region, this Park mostly contains pine forests, alpine shrub-lands, alpine tundra and meadows.
Being in the rain-shadow of the Himalayas, it hardly receives any precipitation hence, dry forests of Juniper, Populus-Salix Forests, sub-alpine dry Birch-Fir are present at lower altitudes. Home to a viable breeding population of 200 Snow Leopards mostly in the Rumbak catchment region is primarily supported by other animals like the Argali, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial) and other live-stock including the Asiatic Ibex. The Tibetan Wolf, Eurasian Brown Bear and the Red Fox are also found here along with other small mammals like Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel and the Himalayan Mouse Hare.
Apart from these 16 mammals, 73 bird species have also been recorded in the Park so far. These include the Golden Eagle, Lammergeyer Vulture, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Streaked Rose finch, Tibetan Snow finch, Chukar, Fork Tailed Swift, Red Billed Chough, Himalayan Snow-Cock and the Fire-Fronted Serin are sighted within the Park with good concentrations in the Rumbak valley. Over 1,600 people mostly consisting of pastoralists, raising poultry, goats and sheep live within the National Park which has no motor-able roads traversing through this region.