No trip to the Indian Trans-Himalayas is complete without sightings of arguably our most stunning “Mountain Monarchs”, the Blue Sheep (locally referred to as Bharal).
Despite their name, Blue Sheep are neither blue nor are they sheep! Their short, dense coats are slate grey to pale brown (changing slightly between summer and winter) though they do have a bluish sheen. Morphological, behavioural and molecular analyses shows that these ungulates (hooved mammals) are more closely related to goats (genus Capra) than sheep (genus Ovis).
Blue Sheep are also my most frequent work companions. I remember the first time I went out surveying Blue sheep in the remote and frigid Gya-Miru region of Ladakh, as part of the Nature Conservation Foundation’s High Altitude Program’s long-term population monitoring work. Sighting a group of these majestic creatures foraging atop a nearby 5,200m mountain top made me forget the six treacherous hours that we had just spent trying to find them.
Click through (above) to view my photo story.