Because of the altitude that vary right from sea level to summits that
touch the skies, the flora and fauna naturally covers a wide spectrum.
Nowhere in the world in such a small area can one find flora and fauna
of all varieties - Tropical to the Alpines. Sikkim's botanical and
zoological richness is awe- inspiring, boasting of more than 4000
species of plants and 30% of all the birds found in the Indian
No wonder Sikkim has been a dream of naturalists. Dr. J. Hooker during
the middle of the last century surveyed in the detail the botanical
wealth in Sikkim and his findings were embodied in the publication
'Himalayan Journal' that is still considered as an authoritative
document. Dr. Salim Ali an ornithologist has given a detailed account
on birds in his book 'The birds of Sikkim'. Besides these there are
many books available on the flora & fauna of sikkim.
The lowlands in the south, 800'to 5000', experience a tropical
climate; lush vegetation such as figs, laurel, Sal trees and bamboos
have been cleared in some areas for farming .
The temperate forest of oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia
and silver fir dominates between 5000; and 13000. Above 13000, is the
alpine zone where juniper, cypresses and rhododendrons grow. The
perpetual snowline lies at 16000'. Luxuriant forests cover 36% of the
land, more than 4000 species of plant have been recorded in Sikkim.
Over 600 species of orchids grow in Sikkim, Epiphytal and terresterial
types, in the tropical and temperate zones. 35 species of
rhododendrons grow in temperate and alpine regions, their flowering
from May to August colours hillsides.
Amongst the mammals of Sikkim are the rare Snow Leopard, Himalayan
Black Bear, Red panda, Musk Deer and Blue Sheep.
Birdlife is abundant with Giant Lammergeier, Vultures, Eagles,
Whistling Thursh, Minivets, Bulbuls and Pheasants among the 550
species to be seen in Sikkim