Wildlife in Ladakh:

The wild yak is to be found only here. Other animals include the ibex, blue sheep, bharal, docile marmot and mouse hare. Black necked crane, bar-headed geese, ducks and several other water birds breed near the lakes in thousands. The avid bird watcher can spend friutful hours by observing Bactrian magpies, grey tits, chough, raven, sparrow, kite, kestrel, Turkoman rock pigeon, chukor, finches, buntings, larks, desert wheateaters, a many more varieties of birds.
The snow leopard is Ladakh's most rare animal. Another one that is unique is the kyang or the wild horse, while at lower altitudes the musk deer too is a rare sight, precious by virtue of its expensive musk. Visitors are likely to spot many marmots, mouse hares, stone martens, red foxes, wolves, ibex, bharal and shapu during the course of their journey but the habitat of the nyan (big horned sheep), chim (Tibetan antelope famed for its fleece-Shahtoosh), goa (Tibetan gazelle), lynx, pallas cat, kyamg (wild horse) and brong dong (wild yak) are still outside the tourists' domain.

Snow Leopard
The greatest attraction of Ladakh is the Snow Leopard. The Snow leopard is one of the rarest wild animal. The Snow Leopard faces extreme threat from the poachers as their skin being popular in Tibet is smuggled and sold in the local market. The Snow Leopard is one of the endangered species and is officially a protected animal.
A rare Tibetan gazelle or the Tibetan antelope “Chiru” can be seen in small groups. “Chiru” falls under the protected species. This antelope is prized for its fleece which produces Shahtoosh, the very fine best wool used to make shawls. Now the trading of the wool has been banned in order to ensure the survival of these wonderful antelopes.
The largest animal of the cold desert is the yak(dong), a wild ox. First described only a century ago by the famous Russian naturalist-- explorer, N.M.Przewalski, the wild yak is definitely more imposing than its placid domestic counterpart. Immensely shaggy and weighing about a tone it has curved horns whose tips can be as wide apart as 90 cm. and measure 76 cm. over the curves. It can easily be distinguished by its long black hair, which is tinged with gray at the muzzle. Spending its summers at a height above 6,000 meters, in winter it moves in herds to the lakes, marshes and lower valleys.
All the world's sheep are closely related and zoologists generally believe that each kind is only a variation of the same species. The largest and most magnificent of wild sheep is the nyan also called the Great Tibetan sheep (Ovis ammon). Roughly 200 of these antelope - like animals are found in the extreme eastern portion of Ladakh. The horns of the nyan measure up to 145 cm. and the animal normally remains at a great height, rarely descending to a level below 4,500 meters.
The Bactrian magpies, Turkoman rock pigeon, desert wheaters, buntings, larks, kite, kestrel and many kinds of finches, ducks, geese and hundreds of species of rare Himalayan birds inhabits the region of Ladakh. Many migratory birds can be seen in Ladakh during the summer month. The most famous of them is the Black-necked Crane, which can be seen in V-shaped formation across the clear Himalayan sky.
The urial or shapu, (Ovis orientalis), which weighs 85 Kg. and has horns measuring upto 99 cm., is the smallest of the world sheep in eastern Asia, its body just about as tall as its horns. These sheep prefer the grassy mountain slopes, usually at a height of 3,000-4,000 meters. The meeting of this species, as is the case with most sheep during December-January and they give birth to their young around May. The need for protection of the urial is great as they are with in easy reach of hunters. Their numbers have been declining rapidly and it is estimated that there are no more than 500 in Ladakh.
Black Necked Crane
Of the 15 crane species in the world the black necked crane (Grus nigricollis) is perhaps the only one that has eluded the scrutiny of both professional biologist and amateur naturalist. Till today, therefore, it retains an aura of mystery. Discovered relatively recently in 1876, by the Russian naturalist / explorer, Count Prezhwalski, this bird has an exclusive distributional breeding range between the altitudes of 3500 meters to 5500 meters in the tablelands of Central Asia. Its migratory patterns are equally unique.
Great RosefinchThe Himalayan and Tibetan snowcocks-large majestic birds much hunted for their meat, and partridges breed at a height about 5,000 meters. The rest are visitors, moving down to the foothills in autumn in an annual ritual of altitudinal migration. Other birds move still further, horizontally following ancient routes of global migration.
The highest realm belongs to the birds of prey and carrion eaters. These include choughs, griffon vultures, ravens and lammergeiers(bearded vultures), which follow man and animal wherever they roam. Choughs and ravens have been seen as high as 6,150 meters along with the lammergeiers, which have a spectacular three meters wingspan, which enables them to glide on high powerful upcurrents. Lammergeiers are never found far from mountains and locals awed by their size falsely believe them to be capable of carrying away young lambs.
Of the goats in the region, ibex (Capra ibex) are the most distinctive and beautiful. Sporting a pair of fine curved, spiral horns measuring as much as 147 cm. (the largest on record), the large stocky ibex normally move in herds of 10-16. They prefer the black precipitous rocks and cliffs and consequently roam much higher than the smaller wild goats, descending, however, in winter to lower altitudes to feed and shelter. The Wildlife Department of J&K estimate that around 250 ibex exist in Kanji Nala.
Bharal, a blue sheep can be seen at the height of 6000 feet. In summers they graze on the rich and abundant grasses of the alpine meadows. Their brownish-gray color provides them with protective camouflage and as they often stand motionless they can be extremely difficult to spot but, when alarmed, Bharal will bolt swiftly to safety. As this species of sheep posses the appearance of both sheep and goat, so they play a vital role in the mythological stories related to Buddhism.