Study reveals sharp difference in flora, fauna of Upper, Lower Chitral

CHITRAL: A sharp difference has been noted between the ecological distributions of upper and lower parts of Chitral as there are very few species of flora and fauna, which are common to both the areas that have now been upgraded into two administrative districts, comprising an enormous area of 15,000 square kilometres.

As per inventory of flora and fauna of Chitral compiled by Ajaz Ahmad and Tahir Rasheed of Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan with the financial assistance of USAID, about 650 species of plants and animals were found in Lower and Upper Chitral districts.

Snow leopard and Himalayan lynx are the only two wild animals and chakur partridge is the only bird mostly found in both the districts, and not a single wild species of tree was found to be common in both the regions.

The study shows that Lower Chitral is the home of Kashmir Markhor and Indian wolf, while in Upper Chitral the corresponding species are Himalayan ibex and Tibetan wolf, and there are some species of animals, which are specific either to one district or the other.

Afghan urial and brown bear are found in Broghil area of Upper Chitral, but have zero population in Lower Chitral, and Himalayan Palm civet, stone marten and black bear are specific to Lower Chitral.

The high altitude flora of Upper Chitral are birch, willow, sea buckthorn and salix against the species of deodar, chilghoza, oak, wild almond and kail of Lower Chitral. There is nothing in common even in shrubs.

Ajaz Ahmed, a conservationist associated with the environment department, said there was a wide variance of altitude between the two regions, and due to the enormity of area, the variation of average temperature and climate varied by a

wide degree, thereby creating different ecological conditions for different species of flora and fauna.

He said Lower Chitral was dry, temperate and mostly sub-alpine, while Upper Chitral was an arid and alpine zone, which supported different ranges of plants and animals in high altitudes.

Regarding the presence of snow leopard in both regions, he said its area of habitat was very wide and it bore the characteristic of adaptation to wide range of ecological zones. .. Source

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