Natural Vegetation and Wildlife of India

India features as a land of immense natural vegetation and a wide-ranging variety of fauna. Our ecosystem comprises an integrated network of flora and fauna and beautifies the Indian mainland. In addition to human beings, it constitutes a varied plant and animal life including tiny microorganisms.

Vegetation is also referred to as flora or the plant kingdom while fauna includes birds and animals. In fact, the word fauna is derived from the Roman term faunus which means forest goddesses and spirits. It also features the name of the Roman goddess of fertility. India is a land of around 500 types of animals, 2000 types of birds, and 30,000 kinds of insects, microbes, amphibians, etc.

Furthermore, natural vegetation and fauna are paramount to the Indian biosphere. This is because they help to maintain the following:

  • Ecological balance
  • Aesthetic power
  • Expansion of local economies

This article describes natural vegetation and fauna in India. It details the various aspects of flora and fauna through the classification of the different vegetation types, distribution of rainfall, biosphere reserves, national parks followed by specific red-listed animals in India.

Natural Vegetation and Fauna

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Classification of Natural Vegetation in India

Due to varying climatic conditions, natural vegetation in India can be classified under the following heads:

Tropical Rain Forests in India

  • Present in regions experiencing heavy rainfall.
  • Also known as evergreen forests as the trees of these forests remain green despite shedding their leaves often.
  • They are located in the northern states of India, Western Ghats, and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands.
  • Mahogany, sandal, rosewood, gurjan, bamboo, and ebony are important vegetations of these forests.

Tropical Deciduous Forests in India

  • A major portion of India is covered with these forests.
  • Unlike the evergreen forests, the trees landscaped in deciduous forests shed their leaves during specific times of the year (generally in dry winters and dry summers)
  • These forests are less dense receiving an annual rainfall of 100-200 cm.
  • States of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and portions of Maharashtra characterize these forests.
  • Peepal, teak, sal, Sheesham, and neam are some significant vegetations of tropical deciduous forests.

Thorny Forests/Dry Deciduous Forests in India

  • Usually found in dry and deserted regions of the country.
  • The trees located in these forests contain spiny leaves to reduce water loss
  • These forests receive an annual rainfall of 50-100 cm
  • Keekar, cactus, babool, and khair are some of the plants located in these forests
  • These forests are found in the areas of Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and the Western Ghats.

Mountain Forests in India

  • These forests are located on hilly terrains, above an altitude of 1500m – 2500m.
  • Usually, coniferous trees grow in these forests.
    Deodar, pine, oak, and fir are few of its significant vegetations.

Mangrove Forests/ Tidal Forests

  • Mainly found in the Sundarbans delta and Andaman and Nicobar islands.
  • This vegetation can survive in saline water
  • Sundaris is a famous species growing in these forests (deriving its name from Sundarbans in West Bengal).
  • Timber, palm, coconut, hogla, pasur, and garan are some of its important natural vegetation.
  • These forests are a rich source for the timber industry in India

Types of Vegetation in India

Forests

  • A dense region with multiple trees and shrubs
  • Nature of trees depends upon the climatic conditions of the region
  • Different types of forests such as evergreen, deciduous, mangrove etc.

Grasslands

  • The grass is the key vegetation in these flat grasslands.
  • These are an important source of weed and cattle.
  • Savannas are the famous grasslands of Africa.

Deserts

  • Dry, concrete, and arid pieces of land.
  • The soil of this land comprises gravel and sand.
  • Plants with long roots grow in these regions.
  • The stems of these plants have a good water-storage capacity.
  • Cactus is the principal plant of the desert region.

Tundra

  • Mostly found in cold regions such as the Arctic region.
  • Limited shrubs and few patches grow in the tundra regions.
  • Mostly covered with permafrost.

Ice-sheets

  • No vegetative cover in these areas.
  • Found in Antarctica and Greenland.

Rainfall Distribution in India

The average rainfall in India amounts to 125 cm. Additionally, different zones experience specific rainfall patterns. Some prominent features of rainfall distribution in India are as follows:

  • The south-west monsoon (June to September)characterizes 75% of the total rainfall in the country.
  • The north-east monsoon (October to December) comprises 13% of the total rainfall in India.
  • 10% (April and May) of rainfall in cyclonic in nature
  • Around 2% (December to February) rainfall is engendered by western disturbances
  • The southern states of India receive the preliminary rainfall from
  • May onwards. Rainfall in these states is often accompanied by thunderstorms and lightning.
  • The northwestern states of India receive an annual rainfall of less than 400cm.
  • Rajasthan receives an annual rainfall of less than 60cm.
  • Variability is high in regions receiving low rainfall. Such areas are extremely vulnerable to droughts.

The heavy rainfall areas in India are mentioned hereby:

  • Western Ghats
  • Northeast Indian states (excluding Manipur and Tripura)
  • Andaman and Nicobar islands

The areas which experience a scarcity of rainfall are as follows:

  • Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west
  • Punjab and Haryana in the north
  • Deserts in Ladakh region

Biosphere Reserves of India

Biosphere Reserves (BR ) is an internationally acclaimed recognition by UNESCO (United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization). India incorporates various biological reserves to maintain a rich cultural, social, and environmental heritage.

By definition, a biological reserve refers to a protected bio-geographical unit for natural conservation. The government, with the help of local tribal communities, takes care of these natural reserves and maintains the ecological balance of the country.

A biological reserve comprises of three major zones:

Core Zone

  • Most interiorized area of a biological reserved
  • Contains endemic plants and animals
  • As per the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, the core zone is free from human interference.

Buffer Zone

  • It surrounds the core zone to protect the natural species within its ambit
  • This comprises the activities of limited tourism, fisheries, grazing, wildlife restoration etc.
  • It also encourages research and other educational activities including limited field trips

Transition Zone

  • It features as the outer layer of a biosphere reserve
  • Human ventures are permissible in this zone
  • Includes managed forests, croplands, settlements, etc.
  • Used for intensive recreation, tourism, economy upliftment, etc.

Functions of a Biosphere Reserve in India

  • Conservation of endemic species, genetic resources, landscapes and ecosystems
  • Foster human and economic developments
  • Protection of the environment
  • Encouraging educational and research activities
  • A hotspot for sustainable development

There exist a total of eighteen biosphere reserves in India. A list of the same is mentioned below:

Name of the Biosphere ReserveName of the State
Nanda DeviUttarakhand
Dehang-DebangArunachal Pradesh
Dibru-SaikhowaAssam
PannaMadhya Pradesh
Cold Desert Himachal Pradesh
KhangchendzongaSikkim
ManasAssam
NokrekMeghalaya 
Achanakmar- Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh- Chhattisgarh
SundarbanWest Bengal
Great NicobarAndaman and Nicobar islands
NilgiriTamil nadu-Kerala
SeshachalamAndhra Pradesh
SimilipalOdisha
PachmarhiMadhya Pradesh 
Gulf of MannarTamil Nadu
AgasthyamalaKarnataka- Tamil Nadu-Kerala

National Parks in India

Here is a list of national parks in India:

Year of Establishment        Name of the National ParkName of the State
1936Corbett National ParkUttarakhand
1955Kanha National Park Madhya Pradesh
1955Tadoba National ParkMaharashtra
1959Madhav National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1968Bandhavgarh National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1974Kaziranga National Park Assam
1974Bandipur National ParkKarnataka
1974Bannerghatta National ParkKarnataka
1975Gir National ParkGujarat
1975Indira Priyadarshini Pench National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1975Gugamal National ParkMaharashtra
1975Navegaon National ParkMaharashtra
1975Pench National ParkMaharashtra
1976Blackbuck National ParkGujarat
1976Guindy National ParkTamil Nadu
1977Keibul-Lamjao National ParkManipur
1977Khangchendzonga National ParkSikkim
1977Dudhwa National ParkUttar Pradesh
1978Eravikulam National ParkKerala
1979Vansda National ParkGujarat
1979Van Vihar National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1980Simlipal National ParkOdisha
1980Ranthambore National ParkRajasthan
1980Gulf of Mannar Marine National ParkTamil Nadu
1981Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) National ParkChhattisgarh
1981Dachigam National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1981Hemis National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1981Kishtwar National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1981Panna National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1981Sanjay National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1981Satpura National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1981Keoladeo Ghana National ParkRajasthan
1982Indravati National ParkChhattisgarh
1982Kanger Valley National ParkChhattisgarh
1982Marine National ParkGujarat
1982Periyar National ParkKerala
1982Nanda Devi National ParkUttarakhand
1982Valley of Flowers National ParkUttarakhand
1983Mahatma Gandhi Marine National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1983Namdapha National ParkArunachal Pradesh
1983Fossil National ParkMadhya Pradesh
1983Sanjay Gandhi National ParkMaharashtra
1983Rajaji National ParkUttarakhand
1984Great Himalayan National ParkHimachal Pradesh
1984Silent Valley National ParkKerala
1984Sunderban National ParkWest Bengal
1985Balpakram National ParkMeghalaya
1986Mouling National ParkArunachal Pradesh
1986Betla National ParkJharkhand
1986Nokrek Ridge National ParkMeghalaya
1986Neora Valley National ParkWest Bengal
1986Singalila National ParkWest Bengal
1987Middle Button Island National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987Mount Harriet National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987North Button Island National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987Saddle Peak National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987South Button Island National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1987Pin Valley National ParkHimachal Pradesh
1987Anshi National ParkKarnataka
1987Kudremukh National ParkKarnataka
1988Nagarahole (Rajiv Gandhi) National ParkKarnataka
1988Bhitarkanika National ParkOdisha
1989Sri Venkateswara National ParkAndhra Pradesh
1989Valmiki National ParkBihar
1989Sultan National ParkHaryana
1989Indira Gandhi (Annamalai) National ParkTamil Nadu
1989Gangotri National ParkUttarakhand
1990Manas National ParkAssam
1990Mudumalai National ParkTamil Nadu
1990Mukurthi National ParkTamil Nadu
1990Govind National ParkUttarakhand
1991Murlen National ParkMizoram
1992Campbell Bay National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1992Galathea Bay National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1992Mollem National ParkGoa
1992City Forest (Salim Ali) National ParkJammu & Kashmir
1992Phawngpui Blue Mountain National ParkMizoram
1992Desert National ParkRajasthan
1992Sariska National ParkRajasthan
1992Buxa National ParkWest Bengal
1992Gorumara National ParkWest Bengal
1993Intanki National ParkNagaland
1994Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National ParkTelangana
1994Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National ParkTelangana
1994Mrugavani National ParkTelangana
1996Rani Jhansi Marine National ParkAndaman & Nicobar Islands
1998Nameri National ParkAssam
1999Dibru-Saikhowa National ParkAssam
1999Rajiv Gandhi Orang National ParkAssam
2003Kalesar National ParkHaryana
2003Anamudi Shola National ParkKerala
2003Mathikettan Shola National ParkKerala
2003Pampadum Shola National ParkKerala
2004Chandoli National ParkMaharashtra
2005Rajiv Gandhi (Rameswaram) National ParkAndhra Pradesh
2006Mukundra Hills National ParkRajasthan
2007Clouded Leopard National ParkTripura
2007Bison National ParkTripura
2008Papikonda National ParkAndhra Pradesh
2010Inderkilla National ParkHimachal Pradesh
2010Khirganga National ParkHimachal Pradesh
2010Simbalbara National ParkHimachal Pradesh
2014Jaldapara National ParkWest Bengal

Red-Listed Species of India

Red-listed species refer to the critically endangered (on the verge of extinction) birds and animals in a country. In India, there are innumerable red-listed species. Some of these species are as follows:

  • Kashmir stag/Hag Hull
  • Malabar Civet
  • Large Rock rat/Elvira rat
  • Andaman White-tooth Shrew
  • Pygmy Hog
  • Himalayan Brown/Red Bear
  • Kondana Rat
  • Namdapha Flying Squirrel
  • Sumatran Rhinoceros
  • Asiatic Lion
  • Asiatic wild dog
  • Golden langur
  • Hispid hare/Assam rabbit
  • Hog deer
  • Nilgiri tahr
  • Bengal tigerRed panda
  • Eld’s deer
  • Himalayan/white-bellied Musk deer
  • Lion-tailed macaque
  • Kharai camel

Government Initiatives to Protect Natural Vegetation and Fauna

  1. 10 out of the 18 biosphere reserves set up in India are incorporated in the world network of biosphere reserves
  2. There are 103 national parks, 535 wildlife sanctuaries, and other zoological gardens to protect the flora and fauna of the country
  3. Project Rhino, Project Tiger, Project Great Indian Bustard, etc are various government initiatives to protect these species from getting extinct
  4. All reserves and sanctuaries are furnished with financial assistance since the year 1992

Conclusion

All together the natural vegetation and fauna in India are excessively diverse in nature and spirit. India is indeed a land of multiple species of plants and animals and each species nurtures in the lap of mother Earth.

The article discusses the different types of vegetation and the species inhabiting the Indian landscape. Further, it tabulates the various biosphere reserves and national parks in the country. Finally, it also lists the endangered species which need to be protected from getting extinct.

Overall, the article illuminates the key features and significance of flora and fauna in India and makes us realize our individual responsibility towards the sustainable preservation of this natural heritage.

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