Deosai National Park

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The most alluring Deosai National Park is one of the proudest symbols of natural beauty Pakistan is blessed with. This exceptionally attractive national icon is an alpine plateau of high ecological value located in the western massif of the Himalayas, east of Nanga Parbat Peak and in close proximity to the Central Karakoram Range. The plateau, with an altitude of 3,500 to 5,200 meters covers an area of 358,400 hectares of flat but undulating plains broken by gently rolling hills and surrounded on all sides by mountains. It forms a stark contrast to much of the surrounding landscape which is made up of narrow valleys between steep mountains.

The area was designated as Deosai National Park by the Government of Pakistan in 1993 with the primary objective of protection and conservation of the Himalayan Brown Bear unique to this part of the world. The Himalayan brown bear is a critically endangered species in some of its range and the key-stone species of Deosai National Park.

The plateau’s environment is characterised by extreme cold with low atmospheric pressure and it receives higher rainfall than adjoining northern and north eastern valleys of Baltistan due to its geographical location facing the monsoon affected outer Himalayas. Here two bio-geographical provinces merge in the Himalayan and Karakorum-Pamir highlands. As a result, it is a place of very rich biodiversity as species are channelled through the Karakorum range, the main crest of the Himalayas, Zanskar range, Ladakh range and the Indus valley.

These factors combine to create high altitude wetlands characterised by Sheosar Lake, at 4,250m which represents a unique category of alpine wetlands that is confined to the Himalaya, Hindu-kush and Karakoram mountain cordilleras. The wetlands are fed by snow melt from the surrounding high snow-clad peaks and are drained by many fast-flowing rivers and streams. Large expanses of alpine meadow alternate with drier stony areas and there are patches of dwarf willows along the rivers and streams. The plateau is highly significant in terms of watershed value. Three important river systems originate from Deosai National Park namely; Shatung, Bara Pani and Kala Pani which form the Shigar River, an important tributary of the Indus River.

The park is part of the Conservation International Himalayan Biodiversity Hotspot and contains a rich variety of species including a population of Tibetan wolf, Himalayan Ibex, Tibetan red fox and Golden marmots. The waters of the Deosai plateau are home to the local snow trout which reach enormous size. The park lies within the Bird-Life International’s Western Himalaya Endemic Bird Area and is important as a resting place and breeding ground of residential and migratory birds of international importance. The flora of Deosai is influenced by four major floristic elements: Boreoalpine and Circumpolar; the Euro-Siberian; Southern European/ Mediterranean and Siberian- Mongolian and is home to hundreds of species of medicinal and aromatic plants. In the spring season it is covered by sweeps of wildflowers and a wide variety of rare butterflies. TW

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