Wildlife of India

Wildlife of India

India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, hosts significant biodiversity; it is home to 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian, 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species.Indira Gandhi Conservation Monitoring Centre (IGCMC), New Delhi and the [http://www.unep-wcmc.org/ United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), World Conservation Monitoring Center] , Cambridge, UK. 2001. [http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/hpg/cesmg/indiabio.html "Biodiversity profile for India"] .] Many ecoregions, such as the "shola" forests, also exhibit extremely high rates of endemism; overall, 33% of Indian plant species are endemic. [Botanical Survey of India. 1983. "Flora and Vegetation of India — An Outline". Botanical Survey of India, Howrah. 24 pp.] [Valmik Thapar, "Land of the Tiger: A Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent", 1997.] India's forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and Northeast India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain.Tritsch, M.E. 2001. "Wildlife of India" Harper Collins, London. 192 pages. ISBN 0-00-711062-6] Important Indian trees include the medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies. The pipal fig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded the Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment.

Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, to which India originally belonged. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards, and collision with, the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic changes 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. [K. Praveen Karanth. (2006). [http://www.iisc.ernet.in/currsci/mar252006/789.pdf Out-of-India Gondwanan origin of some tropical Asian biota] ] Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya. As a result, among Indian species, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and the brown and carmine Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. [Groombridge, B. (ed). 1993. "The 1994 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals." IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. lvi + 286 pp.] These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal tiger, and the Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered a near-extinction from ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.

In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 500 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 14 biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 25 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.

Common name for wilderness in India is Jungle which was adopted by the British colonialists to the English language. The word has been also made famous in The Jungle Book" by Rudyard Kipling.




The need for conservation of wildlife in India is often questioned because of the apparently incorrect priority in the face of dire poverty of the people. However Article 48 of the Constitution of India specifies that "the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country" and Article 51-A states that "it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures." [Krausman, PR & AJT Johnsingh (1990) Conservation and wildlife education in India. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 18:342-347]

Large and charismatic mammals are important for wildlife tourism in India and several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries cater to these needs. Project Tiger started in 1972 is a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitats. [ [http://projecttiger.nic.in/ Project Tiger] Accessed Feb, 2007] At the turn of the 20th century, one estimate of the tiger population in India placed the figure at 40,000, yet an Indian tiger census conducted in 1972 revealed the existence of only 1827 tigers. Various pressures in the later part of the 20th century led to the progressive decline of wilderness resulting in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) General Assembly meeting in Delhi in 1969, serious concern was voiced about the threat to several species of wildlife and the shrinkage of wilderness in the India. In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. The framework was then set up to formulate a project for tiger conservation with an ecological approach.

Launched on April 1 1973 Project has become one of the most successful conservation ventures in modern history. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially constituted 'tiger reserves' which are representative of various bio-geographical regions falling within India. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in their natural environment.

Today, there are 27 Project Tiger wildlife reserves in India covering an area of 37,761 km².

Project Elephant, though less known, started in 1992 and works for elephant protection in India. [ [http://envfor.nic.in/pe/pe.html Project Elephant] Accessed Feb, 2007] Most of India's rhinos today survive in the Kaziranga National Park.

Recent extinctions

The exploitation of land and forest resources by humans along with hunting and trapping for food and sport has led to the extinction of many species in India in recent times. These species include mammals such as the Indian / Asiatic Cheetah, Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros. [cite book|author=Vivek Menon|title=A field guide to Indian mammals|publisher=Dorling Kindersley, Delhi|year=2003|ISBN=0143029983] While some of these large mammal species are confirmed extinct, there have been many smaller animal and plant species whose status is harder to determine. Many species have not been seen since their description.

"Hubbardia heptaneuron", a species of grass that grew in the spray zone of the Jog Falls prior to the construction of the Linganamakki reservoir, was thought to be extinct but a few were rediscovered near Kolhapur. [IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) E-Bulletin - December 2002 [http://www.iucn.org/themes/ssc/news/ebulletin2002/ebulletindec02.html] Accessed October 2006]

Some species of birds have gone extinct in recent times, including the Pink-headed Duck ("Rhodonessa caryophyllacea") and the Himalayan Quail ("Ophrysia superciliosa"). A species of warbler, "Acrocephalus orinus", known earlier from a single specimen collected by Allan Octavian Hume from near Rampur in Himachal Pradesh was rediscovered after 139 years in Thailand. [Threatened birds of Asia [http://www.rdb.or.id/detailbird.php?id=693] Accessed October 2006] [The Nation, [http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2007/03/07/headlines/headlines_30028700.php March 6, 2007] ]

Flora of India

There are about 17500 taxa of flowering plants from India.The Indian Forest Act, 1927 helped to improve protection of the natural habitat.

National Animal, National Bird & National Tree of India

National Animal of India is a Tiger(Bengal Tiger) & National Bird is Peacock (Indian Peafowl) & the national tree is a Banyan Tree.

Project Tiger

Project Tiger is a wildlife conservation project initiated in India in 1972 to protect the Bengal Tigers. It was launched on April 1 1973 and has become one of the most successful wildlife conservation ventures. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially constituted "tiger reserves" representative of various bio-geographical regions throughout India. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in their natural environment.

In 2007, there were 28 Project Tiger wildlife reserves covering an area of 37,761 km². Project Tiger helped increased the population of these tigers from 1,200 in the 1970s to 3,500 in 1990s.

Biosphere reserves

The Indian government has established 14 Biosphere Reserves of India which protect larger areas of natural habitat and often include one or more National Parks and/or preserves, along buffer zones that are open to some economic uses. Protection is granted not only to the flora and fauna of the protected region, but also to the human communities who inhabit these regions, and their ways of life.

Four of the fourteen biosphere reserves are a part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, based on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list [UNESCO, Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme list [http://www.unesco.org/mab/BRs/AsiaBRlist.shtml#I] ] .

*Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
*Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve
*Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve
*Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve

ee also

* Great Nicobar Biosphere Reserve, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
* Endemic birds of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India


External links

* [http://www.wildlifesanctuary.co.in Wildlife Sanctuary India]
* [http://www.indianaturewatch.net/index.php “Online Photo Galleries” on Nature and Wildlife of India at "India Nature Watch (INW)" - spreading the love of nature and wildlife in India through photography]
* [http://www.envfor.nic.in/ Official website of: Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests]

Legislation from Official website of: Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests
* [http://www.envfor.nic.in/legis/legis.html “Legislations on Environment, Forests, and Wildlife” from the Official website of: Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests]
* [http://www.envfor.nic.in/legis/legis.html#S “India’s Forest Conservation Legislation: Acts, Rules, Guidelines”, from the Official website of: Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests]
* [http://www.advocatekhoj.com/library/lawareas/wild/index.php?Title=WildLifeProtection Wildlife Protection and Prohibition]
* [http://www.envfor.nic.in/legis/legis.html#R Wildlife Legislations, including - “The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act” from the Official website of: Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests]

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