VII GEO GIST – LIFE IN THE DESERTS

Desert: It is an arid region characterized by extremely high or low temperatures and has scare vegetation. Depending on the temperatures, there can be hot deserts or cold deserts.

The Hot Desert – Sahara:

  • It has an area of around 8.54 million sq. km
  • The Sahara desert touches eleven countries. These are Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and W. Sahara.

Climate:

  • It is scorching hot and parch dry.
  • It has a short rainy season.
  • The temperatures during the day may soar as high as 50o C and the nights may be freezing cold with temperature nearing zero degrees.

Flora and Fauna:

  • Vegetation in the Sahara desert includes cactus, date palms and acacia.
  • Camels, hyenas, jackals, foxes, scorpions, many varieties of snakes and lizards are the prominent animal species living here.

People:

  • Bedouins and Tuaregs are the nomadic tribes rearing livestock such as goats, sheep, camels and horses.
  • The Oasis in the Sahara and the Nile valley in Egypt supports settled population.
  • Crops such as rice, wheat, barley and beans are also grown.
  • Egyptian cotton, famous worldwide is grown in Egypt.
  • The discovery of oil in Algeria, Libya and Egypt is constantly transforming the Sahara desert.
  • Other minerals found here are iron, phosphorous, manganese and uranium.

The cold desert – Ladakh:

  • Ladakh is a cold desert lying in the Great Himalayas on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Karakoram range in the north and the Zaskar mountains in the south enclose it.
  • Indus is the most important river which flows through Ladakh.
  • The dry temperatures in summer are just above zero degree and the night temperatures well below -30O
  • It is freezing cold in the winters when the temperatures may remain below -40O C for most of the time.
  • Ladakh is also known as Khapa-chan which means snow land.

Flora and Fauna:

  • Due to high aridity, the vegetation is sparse.
  • Groves of willows and poplars are seen in the valleys.
  • During the summers, fruit trees such as apples, apricots and walnuts bloom.
  • Several species of birds are sighted in Ladakh. Robins, redstarts, Tibetan snowcock, raven and hoopoe are common.
  • The animals of ladakh are wild goats, wild sheep, yak and special kinds of dogs.
  • The Chiru or the Tibetan antelope is an endangered species. It is hunted for its wool known as Shahtoosh, which is light in weight and extremely warm.

People:

  • The people here are either Muslims or Buddhists.
  • Some famous monasteries are Hemis, Thiskey, Shey and Lamayuru.
  • In the summer season, the people are busy cultivating barley, potatoes, peas, beans and turnip.
  • The national highway 1A connects Leh to Kashmir valley through the Zoji la pass.
  • Manali – Leh highway crosses four passes, Rohtang la, Baralacha la, Lungalacha la and Tanglang la. The highway opens only between July and September when snow is cleared from roads.
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