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Limi Valley: A threatened Shangri-La for wildlife (commentary)

24 / 09 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

Around 18 kilometers southeast of Tibet’s Lake Mansarovar, a sacred lake for both Hindus and Buddhists, there lies yet another pilgrimage site, albeit of a different nature: The Limi Valley, on the other side of the border with Nepal, is considered sacred not because of religious significance but because of its extraordinary richness in highland biodiversity. Located in the administrative district of Humla, the Limi Valley is part of the western end of the Tibetan plateau, where it extends inside the geographical boundary of Nepal. Thus denizens of the valley are both geographically and culturally close to Tibet. Chyakpalung, which translates to ‘a place where wind blows like crazy’ in English, is the heart of this mystical, high-altitude river valley. The sparse human population is concentrated in four small human settlements (Tila, Haltze, Dzang, and Tungling) towards the south and south-western portion of the valley, with a total of 161 households inhabited by about 900 people of Tibetan origin. The people here have their own traditional way of life, with agriculture and livestock-rearing as the primary sources of livelihood. At the mind-boggling altitude of around 4,000 meters, these human settlements — built with rocks and stones in unique, archaic designs that blend with the landscape — feel like something frozen in time, a surreal dream. The denizens of the Limi Valley have to travel a long way – almost 15 kilometers – by foot on narrow trails across hills and mountains to reach the nearest motorable road, which can bring…

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