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.
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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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mostly found in cold regions such as the Arctic region.
- Limited shrubs and few patches grow in the tundra regions.
- Mostly covered with permafrost.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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 Reserve||Name of the State|
|Cold Desert||Himachal Pradesh|
|Achanakmar- Amarkantak||Madhya Pradesh- Chhattisgarh|
|Great Nicobar||Andaman and Nicobar islands|
|Gulf of Mannar||Tamil Nadu|
|Agasthyamala||Karnataka- Tamil Nadu-Kerala|
National Parks in India
Here is a list of national parks in India:
|Year of Establishment||Name of the National Park||Name of the State|
|1936||Corbett National Park||Uttarakhand|
|1955||Kanha National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1955||Tadoba National Park||Maharashtra|
|1959||Madhav National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1968||Bandhavgarh National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1974||Kaziranga National Park||Assam|
|1974||Bandipur National Park||Karnataka|
|1974||Bannerghatta National Park||Karnataka|
|1975||Gir National Park||Gujarat|
|1975||Indira Priyadarshini Pench National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1975||Gugamal National Park||Maharashtra|
|1975||Navegaon National Park||Maharashtra|
|1975||Pench National Park||Maharashtra|
|1976||Blackbuck National Park||Gujarat|
|1976||Guindy National Park||Tamil Nadu|
|1977||Keibul-Lamjao National Park||Manipur|
|1977||Khangchendzonga National Park||Sikkim|
|1977||Dudhwa National Park||Uttar Pradesh|
|1978||Eravikulam National Park||Kerala|
|1979||Vansda National Park||Gujarat|
|1979||Van Vihar National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1980||Simlipal National Park||Odisha|
|1980||Ranthambore National Park||Rajasthan|
|1980||Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park||Tamil Nadu|
|1981||Guru Ghasidas (Sanjay) National Park||Chhattisgarh|
|1981||Dachigam National Park||Jammu & Kashmir|
|1981||Hemis National Park||Jammu & Kashmir|
|1981||Kishtwar National Park||Jammu & Kashmir|
|1981||Panna National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1981||Sanjay National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1981||Satpura National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1981||Keoladeo Ghana National Park||Rajasthan|
|1982||Indravati National Park||Chhattisgarh|
|1982||Kanger Valley National Park||Chhattisgarh|
|1982||Marine National Park||Gujarat|
|1982||Periyar National Park||Kerala|
|1982||Nanda Devi National Park||Uttarakhand|
|1982||Valley of Flowers National Park||Uttarakhand|
|1983||Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1983||Namdapha National Park||Arunachal Pradesh|
|1983||Fossil National Park||Madhya Pradesh|
|1983||Sanjay Gandhi National Park||Maharashtra|
|1983||Rajaji National Park||Uttarakhand|
|1984||Great Himalayan National Park||Himachal Pradesh|
|1984||Silent Valley National Park||Kerala|
|1984||Sunderban National Park||West Bengal|
|1985||Balpakram National Park||Meghalaya|
|1986||Mouling National Park||Arunachal Pradesh|
|1986||Betla National Park||Jharkhand|
|1986||Nokrek Ridge National Park||Meghalaya|
|1986||Neora Valley National Park||West Bengal|
|1986||Singalila National Park||West Bengal|
|1987||Middle Button Island National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1987||Mount Harriet National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1987||North Button Island National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1987||Saddle Peak National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1987||South Button Island National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1987||Pin Valley National Park||Himachal Pradesh|
|1987||Anshi National Park||Karnataka|
|1987||Kudremukh National Park||Karnataka|
|1988||Nagarahole (Rajiv Gandhi) National Park||Karnataka|
|1988||Bhitarkanika National Park||Odisha|
|1989||Sri Venkateswara National Park||Andhra Pradesh|
|1989||Valmiki National Park||Bihar|
|1989||Sultan National Park||Haryana|
|1989||Indira Gandhi (Annamalai) National Park||Tamil Nadu|
|1989||Gangotri National Park||Uttarakhand|
|1990||Manas National Park||Assam|
|1990||Mudumalai National Park||Tamil Nadu|
|1990||Mukurthi National Park||Tamil Nadu|
|1990||Govind National Park||Uttarakhand|
|1991||Murlen National Park||Mizoram|
|1992||Campbell Bay National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1992||Galathea Bay National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1992||Mollem National Park||Goa|
|1992||City Forest (Salim Ali) National Park||Jammu & Kashmir|
|1992||Phawngpui Blue Mountain National Park||Mizoram|
|1992||Desert National Park||Rajasthan|
|1992||Sariska National Park||Rajasthan|
|1992||Buxa National Park||West Bengal|
|1992||Gorumara National Park||West Bengal|
|1993||Intanki National Park||Nagaland|
|1994||Kasu Brahmananda Reddy National Park||Telangana|
|1994||Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park||Telangana|
|1994||Mrugavani National Park||Telangana|
|1996||Rani Jhansi Marine National Park||Andaman & Nicobar Islands|
|1998||Nameri National Park||Assam|
|1999||Dibru-Saikhowa National Park||Assam|
|1999||Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park||Assam|
|2003||Kalesar National Park||Haryana|
|2003||Anamudi Shola National Park||Kerala|
|2003||Mathikettan Shola National Park||Kerala|
|2003||Pampadum Shola National Park||Kerala|
|2004||Chandoli National Park||Maharashtra|
|2005||Rajiv Gandhi (Rameswaram) National Park||Andhra Pradesh|
|2006||Mukundra Hills National Park||Rajasthan|
|2007||Clouded Leopard National Park||Tripura|
|2007||Bison National Park||Tripura|
|2008||Papikonda National Park||Andhra Pradesh|
|2010||Inderkilla National Park||Himachal Pradesh|
|2010||Khirganga National Park||Himachal Pradesh|
|2010||Simbalbara National Park||Himachal Pradesh|
|2014||Jaldapara National Park||West 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
- 10 out of the 18 biosphere reserves set up in India are incorporated in the world network of biosphere reserves
- There are 103 national parks, 535 wildlife sanctuaries, and other zoological gardens to protect the flora and fauna of the country
- Project Rhino, Project Tiger, Project Great Indian Bustard, etc are various government initiatives to protect these species from getting extinct
- All reserves and sanctuaries are furnished with financial assistance since the year 1992
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.