In the challenging and unforgiving climate of the Everest region, life can be a struggle. However, many animals not only endure but flourish in this demanding environment. By exploring the various Mount Everest animals, we can look at the remarkable adaptations that enabled them to thrive in such harsh conditions.
Both domestic and wild animals live on and around Mount Everest. From big hairy Yaks, to Red Pandas, a variety of animals live on the slopes of Everest.
What Animals Live on Mount Everest?
Despite the immensely high altitude of Mount Everest, the prevailing belief that it harbors minimal wildlife is not true. On the contrary, many organisms can endure the oxygen-scarce environment of Everest. Whereas multiple animals can not only survive but also flourish on its slopes.
Here is a list of Mount Everest Animals.
1. Bharal (or Himalayan blue sheep):
The Bharal, also known as the Himalayan blue sheep, is a captivating and resilient species thriving in the formidable terrain of the Everest region. With its distinctive slate-blue coat, the Bharal navigates the rocky slopes with remarkable agility. This adept climber has evolved to master the steep inclines, utilizing its well-muscled legs and split hooves for stability on treacherous surfaces.
The Everest region provides an ideal habitat for the Himalayan Blue Sheep as they tend to live on alpine meadows, rocky outcrops, and rugged terrains between altitudes of 2,500 to 5,500 meters. The Bharal primarily feeds on grasses, herbs, and shrubs.
The Bharal’s sociability is evident in the herds it forms, ranging in size from a few individuals to larger congregations. These groups facilitate safety and cooperative vigilance against predators like snow leopards and wolves.
Despite being a vital component of the Everest ecosystem, the Bharal faces conservation concerns due to habitat fragmentation, predation, and human interference.
2. Blood Pheasant:
The Blood Pheasant is indigenous to the Eastern Himalayas, this species stands as a short-tailed pheasant. Although its population faces a gradual decline, the blood-pheasant currently has the classification of ‘least concern’ according to The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
Despite their lower categorization, the blood-pheasant contends with a variety of pressing threats. The list of hazards includes habitat degradation, illicit harvesting, habitat fragmentation, and disturbances caused by human activities. Notably, their ground-nesting behavior coupled with an extended incubation period renders them susceptible to these challenges, making them particularly prone to habitat loss and physical disruption.
3. Himalayan Black Bear
In the expansive territories of India, Bhutan, Nepal, China, and Pakistan, Himalayan black bears establish their presence as a distinct subspecies of the Asian black bear. These beings exhibit a preference for warmer climes, consequently avoiding the chillier realms of the Himalayas, instead favoring altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 3,700 meters.
Feeding on a versatile diet, Himalayan black bears demonstrate omnivorous tendencies. They typically eat acorns, fruits, nuts, and honey. Furthermore, they also tend to eat insects like termites, beetles, and larvae. The Black Bear will even eat larger creatures such as goats, sheep, and cattle in times of scarcity.
Regrettably, the equilibrium of their existence has been compromised by forest fires and human encroachment into their habitat. As a result of these challenges, Himalayan black bears find themselves designated as endangered species.
4. Himalayan Goral:
While not inherently inclined toward friendliness, these creatures pose no danger to humans either. Widely distributed throughout the Himalayas, Goral often forms small groups ranging from four to twelve individuals.
With lengths spanning up to 130 cm (51 inches) and the smallest measuring around 95 cm (37 inches), these animals exhibit a weight range of 77 to 93 lbs. Their typical appearance includes gray or gray-brown fur, complemented by pale brown legs, and slender thread-like markings tracing their spines. Their compact horns, gently curved backward, extend up to a maximum length of 18 cm (7 inches).
Masters of camouflage, Goral possesses the skill to blend seamlessly with their surroundings, eluding human observation. Most active during the early morning and evening hours, they sustain themselves by consuming tender grasses and leaves.
Despite a potential lifespan of up to 15 years, the Himalayan Goral faces a decline in numbers attributed to rising temperatures. This has led to the Himalayan Goral’s classification as a near-threatened species on the IUCN Red List.
5. Himalayan Monal:
The Himalayan monal, is a pheasant variety indigenous to the Himalayan woodlands. Alternatively known as the “daphne” in Nepal, it holds the distinction of being Nepal’s national bird. Impressively sized, the Himalayan monal measures approximately 70 cm in length (27 inches), making it a substantial member of the pheasant family.
Predominantly inhabiting the Himalayan foothills, its range stretches from Afghanistan to Sikkim. In addition to these habitats, the Himalayan monal occupies grassy slopes, alpine meadows, and precipitous cliffs, with an altitude range spanning between 2,700 and 3,700 meters. During the winter season, it can descend to altitudes of 2,000 meters, driven by the quest for sustenance. In these colder months, the bird employs an intriguing strategy—digging through snow to unearth plant roots and insects.
6. Himalayan Pika:
Himalayan Pikas, are small creatures that inhabit the elevated heights of Nepal’s Himalayan expanse. Their habitat on Mount Everest spans altitudes ranging from 2,400 to 4,200 meters. This region is characterized by its rugged, stony landscape adorned with extensive screes—accumulations of fractured rock fragments at the base of crags, mountain cliffs, and valley flanks—intermingled with coniferous woodlands. This environment proves advantageous for the Himalayan Pikas, aligning well with their dietary inclinations which primarily encompass grasses, leaves, and plants.
Locating these elusive mammals is a challenge, as they prefer seclusion within remote areas distant from human activities.
7. Himalayan Tahrs:
Himalayan tahrs are a species of wild mountain goats, which live in higher elevation around Everest and eastern Nepal. Native to the Himalayas, they are characterized by their small head, large expressive eyes, delicate pointed ears, and prominent horns.
The females possess a relatively lightweight stature with smaller frames and horns compared to the males. Their defense against the harsh Everest climate lies in their robust red wool coats, providing insulation and protection. These mountain goats adhere to a herbivorous diet, primarily consuming grass, leaves, and fruits around the mountain.
8. Himalayan Wolf:
The Himalayan wolf is a rare sighting in the Everest region. Inhabiting the higher elevations, this subspecies of gray wolf has uniquely adapted to the challenging conditions of the Himalayas.
Its dense, multi-hued fur serves as camouflage against the rocky backdrop on the mountains. Its agility and endurance enable it to traverse steep slopes and navigate the unforgiving terrain with relative ease. Thriving within altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 5,800 meters, the Himalayan wolf has evolved to primarily subsist on the region’s varied wildlife. Its diet encompasses a spectrum of small mammals, Himalayan tahr, and other ungulates, as well as scavenged carcasses.
However, the Himalayan wolf faces substantial challenges, including habitat fragmentation, human activities, and retaliatory killings due to perceived threats to livestock. With limited information available, conservation efforts remain critical to ensuring the survival of this enigmatic apex predator in the Everest region.
9. Mountain Weasel:
Mountain weasels live in the nooks of rocks, subterranean burrows, and the hollows of tree trunks throughout the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal. Moreover, their habitat spans from Kazakhstan to Everest in Nepal living in the higher altitudes of the area, these animals stake their claim in high-altitude habitats.
Mountain weasels are exceptional at climbing, swimming, and sprinting. Their capabilities stem from their short legs and elongated, streamlined bodies, which confer them with remarkable agility. Notably, they possess remarkable visual acuity, utilizing their exceptional sight to engage in both visual and vocal forms of communication with their peers. Despite this capability, their interactions remain infrequent, as mountain weasels are solitary and nocturnal beings, converging solely for the purpose of mating.
10. Musk Deer:
Often mistaken for diminutive deer, musk deer actually belong to an entirely distinct animal family. Notably, musk deer stand apart from their smaller deer counterparts by their lack of antlers and facial glands, instead featuring a distinctive musk gland – from which their name derives. These creatures predominantly inhabit alpine scrublands and forests within the foothills of the Himalayas. Their dietary preferences center around vegetation, as musk deer are herbivores subsisting on an exclusive diet of plants, including grasses, leaves, mosses, and lichens.
Moreover, musk deer adhere to a completely nocturnal lifestyle. Central to their identity their musk gland is a pivotal component responsible for producing secretions that allure mates during the breeding season and mark their territorial boundaries. Interestingly, the allure of this scent extends beyond the animal kingdom, as their scent glands are coveted on the black market, fetching prices around £33,000 per kilogram.
11. Red Panda:
Similar to the Himalayan tahrs, Red Pandas are among the most endangered species inhabiting Mount Everest, facing an ongoing decline in their population. The foremost threat driving them towards potential extinction is poaching, fueled by the lucrative value of their fur.
As their name suggests, red pandas showcase a dense coat of reddish-brown fur that extends gracefully into a lengthy, hairy tail. Their dietary preferences predominantly revolve around bamboo, although they also partake in bird and insect consumption. Furthermore, red pandas are characterized by their timid disposition, exhibiting a solitary and territorial behavior.
12. Snow Leopard:
One of the Himalayas’ most renowned inhabitants is the snow leopard, an exquisite creature sadly categorized as ‘vulnerable’ by The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. With fewer than 10,000 adult specimens remaining in the wild, their numbers continue to dwindle, primarily due to the perils of poaching and habitat degradation.
In the alpine realms of the Himalayas, specifically within elevations ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 meters, the snow leopard establishes its habitat. Elegantly adapted to endure the formidable conditions of Mount Everest’s environment, this majestic feline possesses distinct features. Its compact, rounded ears serve to minimize heat loss, while its broad paws help the large cats cross the snowy terrains of the Himalayas. Notably, the snow leopard’s long, pliable tail acts as both a fat storage reservoir and a mechanism for maintaining equilibrium on uneven landscapes.
Wild yaks stand as massive creatures, reigning as the largest within the bovid species – a lineage encompassing creatures from the family Bovidae and including domestic cattle. The bodies of the yaks remain largely consistent irrespective of gender. However, female yaks can be identified by their slightly smaller body which is approximately 30% smaller than their male counterparts. Possessing a robust frame, these animals are well adapted to endure the harsh conditions of the Everest region. Their resilience is further enhanced by a dense, wooly undercoat paired with shaggy exterior hair that effectively keeps them protected against the cold on Everest.
Frequently encountered within alpine domains adorned with lush, dense grasses, wild yaks predominantly inhabit altitudes ranging from 3,000 to 5,500 meters. Despite their large bodies, these creatures are actually herbivorous. As such, their dietary preferences encompass an assortment of vegetation, including grasses, herbs, shrubs, mosses, and lichens.
Additionally, domesticated yaks are often used for transporting goods and supplies up the mountains for climbers wishing to take on Mount Everest.
14. Yellow-Throated Marten:
Originating from Asia, the yellow-throated marten, also referred to as Kharza and Chuthraul, distinguishes itself as the largest among the marten family – a collection of carnivores akin to weasels.
With a thick fur coat, it features a combination of white, black, yellow, and brown hues. As an omnivore, the Marten adopts a diet encompassing both flora and fauna. Fruits, nectar, and small creatures like deer constitute its primary food sources.
Notably, the yellow-throated marten enjoys a limited number of natural predators, because of its robust physique and off-putting aroma, which serves as a deterrent. However, larger carnivores, including Siberian tigers and Asian black bears, occasionally consider these martens as prey.
How Do Mount Everest Animals Survive the Cold?
The rugged and demanding environment of the Everest region isn’t suitable for every creature. Those Mount Everest animals that do manage to thrive in this challenging expanse exhibit a distinct array of capabilities and adjustments to facilitate their survival. These animals often possess remarkably dense fur, serving as insulation against the harsh elements, and possess broad paws that aid in traversing snowy and irregular landscapes.
Other Species of Animals on Mount Everest:
Here’s a list of other animals that live in the Everest region:
- Asiatic Wild Dog (or Dhole): Reddish-brown wild canine known for its communal lifestyle.
- Himalayan Serow (or Thar): A robust, goat-like creature featuring short horns.
- Altai Weasel (or pale weasel) – these charming carnivores measure no longer than a 30 cm ruler.
- Himalayan Marmot: living in sizable groups, their sentinels stand on hind legs for improved vigilance against danger.
Additionally, there are avian species that live in the Sagarmatha National Park, and Everest:
- Spiny Babbler: Nepal’s solitary endemic species.
- White-Capped River Chat (or white-capped redstart) – observed near riverbanks.
- Black-Capped Sibia: An uncommon avian species within the Leiothrichidae family. Its diet consists of both berries and insects. Its habitat encompasses the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, spanning across India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
- Bearded Vulture: Has been seen flying at elevations of 7,500 m (24,600 ft) in the Himalayas.
- Eurasian Hoopoe: Was recorded flying at 6,400 m (21,000 ft) by the first Mount Everest expedition.