Celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity

Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

22 May 2017

Photo Stories

The blue-green waters of Kaptai Lake in Bangladesh’s Rangamati district are home to plenty of fish, and the surrounding forested hills provide a sanctuary to numerous species of birds and other wildlife. The lake was created in the early 1960s as a result of the Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River. Today, Kaptai Lake, the largest man-made freshwater lake in Asia, produces large quantities of catfish and several varieties of small fish indigenous to the region, providing a livelihood option to local fishermen. It attracts tourists from all over Bangladesh who come here for the tranquil waters and the breathtaking view.  

Photo: Kabir Uddin
An unbroken 125 kilometre stretch of sand, the beach at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is one of the longest natural sandy beaches in the world. The sea is an important source of livelihood for locals, who fish in its open waters and collect oysters, snails, and other mollusks from tide pools and intertidal zones. Cox’s Bazar is also one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and thousands of foreigners and Bangladeshis visit the beautiful seaside town every year.

 Photo: Kabir Uddin
The blue-throated barbet (Psilopogon asiaticus) is one of 525 species of bird recorded in the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve (GNRR), China, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. With its range of natural forests, the reserve is home to a large number of flora and fauna, many of which are endemic. Close to 2,400 species, including many that are rare and endangered, have been recorded within its boundaries, alongside a sizable human population. While anthropogenic activities do pose a threat to the animals, in recent years, ecotourism has developed into a means for subsistence among the human inhabitants of the reserve.  

Photo:  Gao Senfeng,  member of Hebei Branch of China Photographers Association (CPA)
Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan’s first national park, is a collection of six sapphire-blue lakes in Bamyan Province separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. The minerals that fill the waters in these lakes and create the lake beds themselves are the source of the intense and varying shades of blue. The Afghan government hopes that the park will become a leading international tourist destination in Central Asia in the years to come. 

Photo: Yi Shaoliang
For centuries, several Afghan tribes have pursued a nomadic life, herding caravans of sheep, goats and camels around the country. Their migratory lifestyle has allowed these traditional herders to rear a large number of animals without putting too much pressure on the landscape. As flocks migrate to warmer lowlands in winter and mountain pastures in summer, rangelands have enough time to recover and grazing is not limited to a single area. More than two-thirds of the animals sold in Afghanistan are raised in this manner.

Photo: Yi Shaoliang
Rhododendron kesangiae, a rhododendron species native to Bhutan, grows at altitudes of 2,600–3,400 metres. Its broadly elliptic leaves and rose pink to faded purple flowers distinguish it from other species. Rhododendrons are considered a keystone species in the Himalaya as the tree regulates soil moisture and fertility, its flowers sustain a community of insects and birds, and for many communities living in the region, the plant has special cultural significance.

Photo: Nakul Chettri
One of only three ecoregions in India, Sikkim is a Himalayan ecological hotspot. Owing to its altitudinal gradation, a wide variety of plants—from tropical to temperate, alpine, and tundra species—are found here. Its forests are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, and numerous beautiful lakes dot the landscape. Like many other lakes in the Indian State, Raj Karthok, which lies in West Sikkim, is sacred to local communities. It is also a popular tourist destination. Lakes such as Raj Karthok are important recharge areas as they affect the availability of water downstream. 

Photo: Nakul Chettri
A tour of the Chitwan National Park on elephant will take visitors through a lush, green habitat home to at least 68 species of mammal and 543 species of bird. Depending on the time of year, the park hosts an additional 160 species of migrating birds. As the home of the Bengal tiger, the one-horned rhinoceros, the gharial, and the Indian rock python, among many other animals, the park is one of Nepal’s most popular tourist destinations. 

Photo: Dyutiman Chaudhary
Upper Mustang is one of the most remote and isolated regions in the Nepali Himalaya. It lies in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project which, with an area of 7,629 square kilometres is rich in biodiversity and home to 1,226 species of flowering plants, 102 mammals, 474 birds, 39 reptiles and 22 amphibians. Over 100,000 people from different cultural and linguistic groups live within the boundaries of the Project. Thousands of foreigners and Nepalis travel to Upper Mustang and surrounding areas to trek through some of the most beautiful and untouched landscapes on earth.

Photo: Birendra Timilsina
The largest freshwater lake in Northeast India, Loktak Lake is known for the heterogenous masses of vegetable, soil, and organic matter called phumdis that form a series of floating islands on its surface. The largest of the phumdis forms Keibul Lamjao, the only floating national park in the world. The park is the last natural refuge of the Manipur brow-antlered deer, of which only 180 remain in the wild. Several other mammals, birds, and reptile species such as the large Indian civet, the flying fox, the Asian golden cat, the water cobra, and the Burmese sarus crane are also found in the park.

Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya
A herd of female goas in the Tibet Autonomous region, China. Goa, also known as Tibetan gazelle, are a species of relatively small antelope native to the area. They inhabit terrain between 3,000 and 5,750 metres in elevation, and live almost entirely within the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Xinjiang, Tibet, Qinghai, and Sichuan, and with tiny populations in Ladakh and Sikkim in India. Female goas graze in higher altitude terrain than males and the two sexes remain separate for much of the year, meeting in early fall, prior to mating season. 

Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya.