FLORA AND FAUNA OF WEST SIKKIM

FLORA-

Sikkim’s local name is “Denzong”, which translates as the “valley of rice” which is the chief crop of the state.

Basically, Sikkim can be divided into three zones- the tropical, which is from sea to 5000 feet, the temperate, which is 5000- 11000 feet and the alpine, which is 11000 feet and above.

In the tropical zone till 10000 feet, there are terraced farmlands in which the rice, maize, barley and millet are grown. Cardamoms, oranges, apples, potatoes and ginger are grown in abundance in the state. The jungles in the south have plantains, bamboos, tree ferns, walnut, sal and oak trees. Orchids are found in moderate altitudes and about 600 different species are found in Sikkim. The most popular orchids of Sikkim are Cymbidiums, Vanda, Cattaleya, Hookeriana, Farmeri, Dendrobium Amoenum. The Nobile Orchid of the Dendrobium has been declared as the State Flower of Sikkim.

In the temperate zone, there are oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia and silver fir trees.

In the alpine region of Sikkim, above the height of 10000 feet, about 35 species of Rhododendrons are found. They are diverse in size and colour, from the giant Rhododendron Crande, which grows over 40 feet to the Rhododendron Nivale, which grows a few inches above the ground, and from the blood red to pale white. The delicate but hardy Primula are found at heights of 12,000 feet and above. When the Rhododendron flower between the month of April and May, the forests burst with color and it is a sight to behold. The Rhododendron niveum has been declared as the State Tree of Sikkim.

14000 feet and above is a treeless altitude and curious types of flowers in colours of blue, red, violet blossom during summers just a few inches above the ground. The stones and rocks also get coloured by lichens and mosses in unstructured pattern.

 

FAUNA-

Sikkim has more than 5000 species of avifauna ranging from the majestic Bearded Vulture, which has a wingspan of over 10 feet to the Olive Ground Warbler, which is just a few inches in length. Other species include the Giant Lammergeier Vulture, Emerald Dove, Kingfishers, Whistling Thrush, Minivet, Bulbul, Pheasant, Ashy Woodpecker, Sultan Tit, Emerald Cuckoo and the Fairy Bluebird. Many migratory birds like the Ruddy Shelduck also visit Sikkim. Blood Pheasant is declared as the State Bird of Sikkim.

Sikkim also has more than 600 species of butterflies, many of them being rare and endangered.

The forests are home to the Barking Deer which shares its habitat with the adorable little Red Panda, which is the state animal. Musk Deer, Leopard Cats, and Flying Squirrels are also found in the forests. The higher alpine regions have animals like Blue Sheep known commonly as the Bharal, the Shapi which is similar to the Himalayan Tahr and is endangered, the Tibetan Wild Ass, locally known as the Kyang, snow leopards, yaks and the Himalayan Black Bear.

There are 45 species of fish in sikkim which include the trout, salmon and carp.

There are 40 species of reptiles found in this region, which include various types of lizards, snakes, krait and cobra.