Animals of the Mountains
by Cris Cruz, age 11
Mountaintops are one of the harshest
places to live. With cold and windy slopes, it takes a tough animal
to endure this type of environment. Still, many animals make these
snowy summits their home.
The Himalayan Mountains are one of the
hardest environments of all. Nesting very high in these mountains is
the Himalayan snowcock. This incredible bird builds its nest at an
altitude of more than 13,000 feet. Its gray and white feathers are
perfect camouflage among the landscape of gray rock and ice capped
Also living in the Himalayan
Mountains, is the snow leopard, a big cat whose beautiful spotted fur
coat is often a target of fur poachers.
With its thick hairy coat, the yak is
comfortable in the highest, coldest parts of the Himalaya mountains.
It can eat the toughest grasses and survive at altitudes over 20,000
feet. Sought after for its wooly coat, milk and meat, the yak is also
used as a sure footed pack animal.
The lammergeier is another one of the
few birds that can survive mountain peaks. It is found in the
mountains of Africa and Southern Europe. As a type of vulture, the
lammergeier eats almost all parts of its prey including the toughest
hide and bones of a carcass. In order to break down the bones and get
at the soft marrow inside, the lammergeier drops the bones from great
heights down onto its chosen rock.
Mountaintops of California and South
America are the home of condors. They are the world’s biggest birds
of prey, with giant wings spanning more than 10 feet across. They
too, are vultures feeding on carcasses. Their secret to survival is
their ability to ride wind currents, soaring patiently for hours
waiting for the next meal.
Mountain goats are nimble climbers
that can scale the steepest of slope. Their secret for incredibly
good climbing is not only in their balance, but also in their hooves.
Mountain goats’ hooves have sharp edges, which dig into rock
crevices, acting like suction cups.
As humans, living in the mountains
appears difficult and unpleasant. But these tough animals are adapted
to this severe ecosystem, which is nothing short of remarkable.
[Source: The Big Book of Knowledge]