Sagarmatha National Park is a protected area in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal that is dominated by Mount Everest. It encompasses an area of 1,148 km2 in the Solukhumbu District and ranges in elevation from 2,845 metres to 8,848 metres at the summit of Mount Everest. In the north, it shares the international border with the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve of Tibet and extends to the Dudh Kosi river in the south. Adjacent to the east is the Makalu Barun National Park. The protected area has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and is included in the Sacred Himalayan Landscape.
Most of the park area is very rugged and steep, and the terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers. The park contains the upper watershed of the Dudh Kosi river basin and the Gokyo Lakes. Barren land above 5,000 metres comprises 69% of the park while 28% is grazing land and the remaining 3% is forested. Climatic zones include a forested temperate zone, a subalpine zone above 3,000 metres, and an alpine zone above 4,000 metres that constitutes the upper limit of vegetation growth. The nival zone starts at 5,000 metres.
In the lower forested zone, birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron grow. Above this zone the vegetation is dwarf-sized or comprises shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750 metres, because this is the permanent snow line in the Himalayas. Forests of pine and hemlock cover the lower elevations of the national park. At elevations of around 3,500 metres and above, forests of silver fir, birch, rhododendron and juniper trees are found.
The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Himalayan monal, blood pheasant, red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. Sagarmāthā National Park is also home to a number of rare mammal species, including musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and red panda. Himalayan thars, langur monkeys, martens and Himalayan wolves are also found in the park.
The temperature and available oxygen decrease with altitude. Therefore, the animals that are found here are adapted to living on less oxygen and cold temperatures. They have thick coats to retain body heat. Some of them have shortened limbs to prevent loss of body heat. The Himalayan bears go into hibernation in caves during the winter when there is no food available.
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