Kishtwar High Altitude National Park

Kishtwar National Park is a beautiful place, located in the Kishtwar district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was majorly founded to protect the Snow Leopards that are now slowly vanishing from the nature. This park is situated at a distance of  around 250 kms away from Jammu & 40 kms from the Town of the Kishtwar the area was declared Kishtwar High Altitude  National Park vide Notification No.20 FST of 1980-81 dated:-04/01/1980 & subsequently under SRO -135 dated :-10/04/1980 was 400 Sq Kms  & further its boundaries were fixed vide SRO-212 as under

Geographical Location of the Park

North : The ridge separating the watersheds of Kaintal and Kulhoyan Nallahs

South: The georgraphic left ridge of Kiber Nalla from Brahma Peak upto Kibar village.

East: The ridge separating Kargil district from Kishtwar district.

West: The permanent villages in the bank of Renai, Kiar,, Nanth, and Kibber nallahs. The geographical boundary is mere indicative of the National Park: the actual area of the National Park in each of the streams is described below with the indication of the forest compartments falling in it.

Area Description of the National Park

The National Park would consist of part of the upper catchments of following streams. Renai, Kiar, Nanth and Kibber Nallah.

In each of the aforesaid streams, the area of the national park starts from watershed ridge and ends near the first permanent village/hemlet in its downstream.

Features of National Park

The area of the National Park is contiguous in nature. The tract is situated on the high altitudes i.e., sub-alpine and alpine zone. The altitude range of 2300 m to 6000m is observed in this tract. This area is traditionally receiving appreciable quantum of snowfall during winter and rainfall during summer. The water flowing through the tract for millions of years had deeply serrated the land mass into valleys and gorges in all possible directions. It resulted in formation of land mass with varying slopes and aspects. The other local factors such as depth of soil, texture of soil, light availability and duration along with other edaphic factors creates the condition suitable for growth of varied plant species over the land. This produces grass lands, bushy vegetation, marshy land, glacial lakes and varied types of forest. In the bank of the nallas one can observe the growth of conifer trees such as bluepine, fir, spruce and Bhojpatra. Due to availability of varied vegetation along the altitudinal graduation, this area is highly suitable for the wildlife.

The area is away from the human habitation. The people living in the peripheral area i.e,. outside the National Park will never venture the National Park since it is located on the upstream of their habitation.

Physical Features:

 The area of the National Park is mostly precipitous and rugged comprising of steep slopes and high ridges broken by rocky cliffs and mostly narrow valleys. The altitude of the National Park ranges from 2300 m to 6000 m. The general rock formation of the National Park falls under the central Himalayan crystalline group. The geological formation is the result of succession from Precambrian to Triassic. The rocks are composed of mainly granite, gneisses and schist with occasional marble beds.

Drainage: 

There are numerous small streams which drain into Renai, Kiyar, Nanth and Kibber Nallas and all these independently drain into river Marwah that joins river Chanderbhaga at Bhandarkoot and forms the river Chenab. The National Park is gifted with nuerous perennial streams, Nallas, Ponds, springs and Glaciers as the resilt of which the water supply is adequate throughout the year. The best known glacier in the area is Brahma Glacier which is about 18 Kms long besides the Metwan Glacier.

Climate and Rainfall

The climate of the National Park confirms to temperature type and depending upon the duration and magnitude of precipitation and temperature four seasons are clearly recognized. These are summer, autumn and winter. The upper reaches of the National Park is characterized by severe and prolonged winter and short summer season. The climate becomes temperature and milder in the lower areas. Snowfall takes place, mainly during December and January sometimes even in November, February and March. During winter, the whole National Park is covered under snow. In the upper reaches and unexposed aspects, the snow remains deposited for at least nine months which acts as the source of water to the different nallas during dry summer months. Most of the precipitation is received from December to April. The monsoon is often weak and reaches late in the area. The average annual rainfall is about 920 mm. considerable winter precipitation and moderate rainfall occur during the summer. Severe winter conditions occur partly due to geographic feature and party as a result of the influences of western disturbances.

Winds are mostly light to moderate. The terrain also gives rise to various types of local winds. These become strong when blowing over fields and glaciers. Winds blowing through mountain ranges emerge out as strong currents.

Vegetation:

The area of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park is characterized by marked variation of topography, climate and altitude as the result of which different types of forest vegetation occur in the area especially on northern and eastern aspects. Due to a wide range of elevation, aspects, slopes and moisture regime, the national park supports a variety of temperature conifer forests. These include Fir, Himalayan Yew, Deodar, Blue Pine, or Kail and Spruce. In the alpine regions of the national park, extensive alpine scrub and meadows, open rocks ad glaciers are present. The lower catchment areas of all the four nallas namely, Kiber, Nanth, Kiar and Renai support mixed forests.
Kishtwar is arguably the most important cis-Himalyan area in the state on account of its fairly size and diverse mammalian fauna including a number of rare and endangered species. Its forest was exploited to their severe detriment until 1948 since when logging has been scientifically managed and finally ceased with the establishment of ‘National Park’.