Flora and Fauna
Diverse Variety of Vegetation
of flora and fauna are fast dwindling, and if measures are not taken to
check deforestation, it wont be long before barren stretches replace
The Himalayan belt is a
botanists delight. The thick tropical forests in the eastern region of
India are in sharp contrast to the pine and coniferous woodlands of the
Natural cover varies with altitude; evergreen
forests with mainly high alpine meadows nearer the snowline have more of
temperate forests in the lower elevations.
The chir pine (Pinus
roxburghii) grows throughout the northwest Himalayas, with the exception
of Kashmir. Chilgoza (pine nut), oak, maple, ash (Fraxinus
xanthoxyloides) grow abundantly in the Inner Himalayas.
foothills are covered with deciduous trees, shrubs, fern and grass. The
Brahmaputra Valley also wears patches of tea plantations and
fluorescent-green rice fields, while mulberry trees on which tussar
silk worms are bred, abound on the slopes.
Rain Forest of
most luxuriant rain forests, however, lie on the southwestern coast, in
Kerala where the lagoons are canopied by coconut trees, leading to the
longest uninterrupted stretch of rain forests in the country. The andaman
Islands and Arunachal Pradesh are other regions with well preserved rain
Dense sandal, teak and sisoo (Dalbergia sissoo)
forests, where elephants roam wild and free, flourish on the wet Karnataka
plateau. Nudging this is the dry Telengana plateau in Andhra Pradesh,
which offers only thorny scrub and wild Indian date palm.
The Thar Desert presents a very different
picture. The trees are short and stout, stunted by the scorching sun.
Apart from cacti, there are the reunjha (Acacia leucophloea),
khejra (Prosopis spicigera), kanju (Holoptelia integrifolia)
and ak (Calotropis gigantea).
Tropical moist deciduous forests
that cover most of the heartland are interspersed with tropical dry
deciduous trees. The species include sal (Shorea robusta), teak
(Tectona grandis), semul (Bombax ceiba), laurel, rosewood, mahua
(Madhuca indica), amla (Emblica officinalis), khair
(Acacia catechu), common bamboo, to name just a
The plant kingdom
is not the only endangered species. Indias rich fauna is known the world
over, but sadly many species either live in very restricted habitats, or
are on the verge of extinction. The threats to Indian wildlife are
Diverse Variety of Wildlife
Even though India
is known for its tigers, elephants and rhinoceros, it is home to over 500
mammal species. Antelopes and deer like the chinkaras (Indian
Gazelle), barasinghas (swamp deer), chitals (spotted deer),
muntjacs (barking deer) and sambars (Indias largest deer) can
easily be spotted in forests and wildlife reserves.
that are easy to spot include buffaloes, massive Indian bisons (gaurs),
striped hyenas, wild pigs, jackals, Indian foxes and wild dogs.
the smaller mammals are mongooses and giant squirrels. Big cats include
leopards and panthers, short-tailed jungle cats, and the beautiful leopard
cats. Monkeys are a very common sight, especially around
The country also has about 2000 species and
sub-species of birds. The numerous sanctuaries across the country are not
only breeding colonies for these feathered creatures, but serve as resorts
for migratory birds from higher altitudes, as well.
Add to all this
over 500 species of reptiles and amphibians. King cobras, pythons,
crocodiles, large freshwater tortoises and monitor lizards are only some
There are also some 30,000 insect species, including some very
stunning butterflies. Look around a bit on a bright summer morning, and
youll know what we mean.
Establishment of Wildlife Parks and
Many of the wildlife sanctuaries and a few national
parks have been established in erstwhile private hunting reserves of the
British Raj and Indian aristocracy.
often, a park is better known for a particular animal. Thus Gir
(Gujarat) is famous for its Asiatic lions, the Indian rhinoceros is the
pride of Kaziranga (Assam), elephants steal the show in Periyar (Kerala),
and tigers are synonymous with Kanha (Madhya Pradesh) and Bandavgarh
(Madhya Pradesh). The mangrove forests of Sunderbans are the unique
habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
All told, India has about 80
National Parks and 441 sanctuaries.