The Himalayas traverse India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and Pakistan. Formation of the mountain range began 40 to 50 million years ago when the India and Eurasia landmasses collided. Many peaks and other places of the mountain range are sacred in Buddhism and Hinduism. The Himalayas impact the climate of the surrounding regions by blocking cold, dry winds from reaching the Indian subcontinent, leading to the relatively warm climate of South Asia. The Himalayas also shelter northern regions from monsoon winds, leading to heavy rains in the Terai. The snow and ice of the mountains is a source of water for perennial rivers and tributaries, used by villages for irrigation and energy generation. These rivers also spread mineral-rich silt, making the alluvial plain incredibly fertile. The biodiversity of the Himalayas varies with altitude, region, precipitation, and soil type. The Himalayas provide habitat for many globally threatened species, such as the endangered Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, snow leopard, red panda, critically endangered Himalayan quail, and many more. In Nepal, Sagarmatha National Park, dominated by Mt. Everest, encompasses the Great Himalayan Range and protects its ecosystems and species, but climate change is impacting many aspects of the region.
Photo and haiku: Samantha Oester