The forests of the world never cease to amaze me and there's a jolly good reason for that. There are all kinds of forests and they are homes to a variety of plants and animals depending on the weather, natural landscape, and their human surroundings.
I am always amused to see how wildlife adapts and exists in all kinds of temperatures and areas against all odds! My idea of a forest abundant with wildlife was very different until I heard about the savannah, the wetlands, and the Tundra.
But, Tundras are treeless forests? How would I survive? The thought sometimes keeps me up at night, I swear. So, I asked some friends and read about the region to bring you all I know.
What is the Tundra?
Tundra literally means treeless or barren land. Tundras are found in many regions all over the world, in the arctic and on the tops of mountains. Tundras are one of the coldest and harshest areas on Earth but wildlife still reigns. They are almost like deserts in a way. There is very little vegetation that survives here and much of it remains frozen through the year (Must be so hard fr my friends!). This layer is known as permafrost and is the foundation of the areas ecosystem. It is a layer of dead plants and soil that goes as deep as 450 metres below the surface and acts as a carbon sink.
Who lives there?
In the Arctic Tundra, the ground remains covered with snow for most of the year, with the average temperatures being -12 to -6 degrees. The short growing season lasts only about 50-60 days in the summer when the sun shines constantly. Few animals battle it out in these conditions like the Polar Bears, Musk-oxen, Gray Wolves, Arctic Foxes, Snow Geese, Caribou, among others. Mosses, Sedges, and Lichens also survive in these lands.
Believe it or not, even big cats live out in Siberian Tundra! If you don’t know what a Siberian tiger or leopard are, you just have to look them up!
What a sight it would be to see these brave inhabitants of the wild!
The Big Game We Love
The Siberian or Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) is the largest cat in the world. They live mostly in the birch forests of eastern Russia where there is plenty of land for them to roam far from human habitation. There are about 400-500 of them in the wild. They live in one of the harshest climates but have the most complete ecosystem to thrive in (Phew!).
The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is one of the rarest and most endangered cats in the world. It lives and hunts alone and is nocturnal, making it even harder to spot. Wild Amur leopards are found only on the borders of Russian Far East and north-east China.
Everyone loves my big furry friends! Polar bears are large bears that live in the Arctic and swim in the icy coastal waters. They depend on their insulated, white camouflage coat to survive and merge into their environment. They actually have black skin underneath to absorb warmth from the sun. They are about 8 feet tall and weigh anywhere between 400- to 700kgs!
A super cool (or cold) safari
A safari means different things in different places all over the world. Jeeps are the most common means to travel across our jungle paths here in India, though you do get rather exciting boat safaris in Kabini and Thekkady. Varying terrain and forests call for more innovative means of transportation to get through them, creating more exciting ways of seeing wildlife and nature.
You can’t really take your jeep in a place where there is no road, and you can’t drive across the snow in the Arctic, so it’s time to graduate to something bigger and better, like a Tundra Buggy. This all-terrain-vehicle is a brilliant and safe way to safari across the snow to get a glimpse of the majestic polar bears in their natural habitat. The Tundra Buggy Adventure takes you through established trails through the Churchill Wildlife Management Area for viewing and photographing wildlife. Add this thrilling and also rather chilling experience to your list of things to do in a lifetime! I surely have!
The Grand Tundra Edition
Get to know all the cool cats and other animals of the Tundra in our Grand Tundra edition, and you can even get them to mingle with the animals of the Spots and Stripes or Migration Mania editions by mixing up the cards!