Alpine climate poses great challenges for the animals and plants to survive. They have to cope with harsh conditions such as thin air, rocky and infertile soils, fluctuating temperature but mostly extreme cold as well as snow and ice. Despite the inhospitable conditions, these animals and plants surprisingly manage to thrive well.
The snow leopard or ounce is a big and heavy cat that lives on the mountains of south and central Asia. Despite their savage nature, snow leopards are considered an endangered species, with their global population dwindling down to just over 6,000.
The mountain goats are different from domesticated goats. They are much hardier, are able to climb on a rocky terrain, and are also able to subsist on whatever vegetation they find in the mountains. The Rocky Mountain Goat is more often seen in Colorado and Wyoming.
The ibex, characterized by its long and curving horns, are also a species of the wild goat.
The llama has been domesticated by man for centuries. Native in the Andes mountain range in South America, the llama has been used as a pack animal as well as for its meat and fur.
The vicuña is a relative of the domesticated llama. Vicuñas thrive on the same high-altitude conditions in the Andes as the llamas do, but they are much harder to spot. One time, vicuñas were declared as endangered with only 6,000 left. But thanks to vigorous conservation efforts, their population have been brought back to healthy numbers.
Both vicuñas and llamas belong to the camel family. They are also related to the other South American camelids like the alpaca and the guanaco.
The alpine marmot is a mountain-dwelling species of marmot native to central and southern Europe. Alpine marmots have the ability to dig into the rocky grounds (that even a pickaxe could not penetrate) and could hibernate in nine months the most. They are relatives of the squirrel.
The only member of the Vultur genus, the Andean vulture is found not only on the Andes mountains but also on the western South American coasts. It is the world’s biggest flying bird when its wingspan measurements and weight are combined. Despite that, the Andean condor is listed on the “near threatened” species.
This bird belongs to the pheasant family and is also related to quail, chicken and turkey. The Tibetan snowcock thrives in the high-altitude areas in the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas, but it can sometimes be found on the lower altitudes during a heavy snowfall.
These alien-looking plants belong to the genus Dendrosenecio and are only found in mountains of central and east Africa, including the famous Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Snowdonia hackweed may not be a weird-looking flowering plant, but it is only endemic to Snowdonia, North Wales. It was thought to be extinct because of overgrazing, but in 2002 it was spotted on a mountain slope in Wales. It is considered one of the rarest plants in the world.
This adorable-looking rodent is native in South America’s Andes mountain range. They have also become popular as pets.
Chinchillas are also known to have a soft and dense fur, which is used for clothing. Most chinchillas presently used for commercial fur are farm-raised.
Having a scientific name Cassiope mertensiana, the Western moss heather is a species of flowering plant that is native in Alaska, the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the mountains of California.
This low, evergreen shrub grows in patches along the rocky, mountainous paths. It has short, green stems that look like the scales of a snake. It produces white, drooping bell-shaped flowers.