The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. Sagarmāthā National Park is also home to a number of rare mammal species, including musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and red panda. Himalayan thars, langur monkeys, martens and Himalayan wolves are also found in the park.
The temperature and available oxygen decrease with altitude. Therefore, the animals that are found here are adapted to living on less oxygen and cold temperatures. They have thick coats to retain body heat. Some of them have shortened limbs to prevent loss of body heat. The Himalayan bears go into hibernation in caves during the winter when there is no food available.
Snow leopards are native to the mountains of Central Asia, including Mount Everest. These large cats are endangered and incredibly rare in the wild, with only approximately 6,000 remaining. Snow leopards are specially adapted to their cold high-altitude environment, sporting thick insulating fur and wide feet for sure-footedness even on snowy rock walls. Snow leopards prey on the ibex and sheep that also make Everest their home.
Himalayan Black Bear
Himalayan or Asiatic black bears can be found in forested areas of Mount Everest, all the way up to an elevation of about 14,000 feet. These bears, recognizable by their shaggy black coats and the distinctive white blaze on their chests, survive the harsh winters of Everest by hibernating during the coldest months. During the warmer months, Himalayan black bears survive on a diet of leaves, shoots, seeds, insects, nuts, fruits and occasionally meat.
The Himalayan tahr is a small goat-like mammal that can be found at elevations of over 16,000 feet in the alpine and subalpine regions of the Himalayas. Tahrs of both sexes have curved horns, and all have specially adapted hooves and dewclaws that allow them to climb with ease. Tahrs prefer wooded slopes, bluffs and alpine meadows. Himalayan tahrs are considered to be “near threatened” in the wild, and have had to be reintroduced into parts of their habitat.
Himalayan gorals are small members of the bovid family that can be found throughout the Himalayas, and prefer to remain below the timberline of their mountainous habitat. Gorals are generally social animals, living in groups of between four and 12 individuals, though some can live in pairs or singly. These animals prefer rugged terrain, and can typically be found on precarious slopes or grassy ridges. When threatened, this species will hide in rock crevices.
Red pandas, also referred to as lesser pandas or red cat-bears, are a rare sight even in highly visited areas of Mount Everest. These raccoon-like animals can be found at lower elevations in bamboo thickets of Sagarmatha National Park. Because the population of red pandas is thought to be less than 10,000, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species considers them to be a “vulnerable” species.