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Introduction to Indian Wildlife

India is a prime example of Diversity, there are today 121 languages in more than 19,500 dialects, spoken across the country. This has fascinated people from around the world to visit, experience and study the quite unfathomable Culture and History of India, to be discovered at every corner of the country.

India’s long Coastlines and their ports, Agricultural wealth due to soil fertility caused by its Rivers and their silt, availability of Water therein and Mineral Deposits and their potential, has led to attempts to conquer India by external forces since over a millennium:

  1. The Persian King Darius (526 BC)
  2. Greek King Alexander the Great (326 BC)
  3. The Portuguese (1498)
  4. Mughal Invasion and their Dynasty (1526-1761)
  5. The East India Company and British Raj in India (1858-1947

It can be argued that the Mughal Kings had completely integrated themselves into the land which is today’s India, however, it wasn’t until the rise of Nationalism in India, where a mass movement across all sections of society and religions, led by Indian Political Leaders and Freedom Fighters, could overthrow an Empire as great as the British Empire and thus establish the borders of what is Modern Day India. In additional to the famed diversity and historic power battles of India, there are crucial Geographical Factors as well which have shaped the Culture and Lifestyle of the People of India.
It has preceded and shall transcend any Human Stories of India.

Shift of the Indian Tectonic Plate - A Real History of India

Corbett Tiger Cub

Zoogeographical Region of India

India falls under the Oriental Zoogeographical Region of the World. This region includes the Indian Subcontinent, Southern China, Malaysia, Phillipines, and the islands of and around Indonesia. The majority of the areas denoted under this region are Tropical Forests, with considerable dry and and partially desert areas in the North-western region where highly specialised adaptions are seen in species. Species overlap in these regions across various orders and families, yet the taxonomical difference between them is not very dissimilar.

Sub-regions of the Oriental Region :

• Indian : From the foot of the Himalayas, across the Western & Eastern Ghats till the southernmost tip upto Mysore.
• Indo-Ceylonese : Sri Lanka and Southern India
• Indo-Chinese : Burma, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and parts of Southern China
• Indo-Malayan : Malayan Peninsula, islands of the Malay Archipelago and Indonesia.

Biogeographical Classification
of India

India comprises of just 2.4% of the Earth’s land mass, and it hosts biodiversity which amounts to 8% of the Earth’s species known to man today. India is considered a mega-diverse nation. The reasons for this are the unique geographical features which shape the landscape.
Snow Leopard 02

Trans-Himalayan Region

This is the high-altitude rain-shadow area of the Himalayan Mountains which display cold and arid conditions. These are unique cold deserts comprising of bare hills and sparse alpine steppe vegetation.

Wildlife of the Trans-Himalayan Region :
Tibetan Wild Ass or Kiang, Tibetan Gazelle, Asiatic Ibex, Ladakh Urial, Wild Yak, Tibetan Argali, Tibetan Antelope or Chiru, Black-necked Crane, Tibetan Wolf and Snow Leopard amongst various other species.

Himalayan Brown Bear

Himalayan Zone

These are the youngest, yet highest mountains in the world. They form the Northern Boundary of the Indian Subcontinent. This area contains Tropical Forests, Deciduous Forests, Mixed Forests, Alpine Meadows, Oak, Rhododendron, Coniferous Forests and Snow-capped peaks. Massive biodiversity exists here.

Wildlife of the Himalayan Region :
Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Himalayan Brown Bear, Asiatic Black Bear, Tibetan Wolf, Musk Deer, Hangul, Himalayan Tahr, Takin, Ghoral and more.

Black Buck - 1

Desert Region

In the West of India, in the Aravalli Hills, lies the Desert landscape of India. A land once submerged under water. The Thar Desert of Rajasthan & The Salt Desert of Kutch in Gujarat.

Wildlife of the Desert Region of India :
Indian Wild Ass or Khur, Blackbuck, Indian Grey Wolf, Desert Fox, Great Indian Bustard, Macqueen’s Bustard or Houbara Bustard, Indian Hedgehog, Flamingoes, Indian Desert Gerbil, Falcons, Eagles amongst various other species.

Lion

Semi Arid Region

Adjoining the Desert Region are the semi-arid areas mostly comprising of thorny Scrub, Dry Deciduous Forests and sparse Grasslands. Hill areas and rocky outcrops provide shelter for a variety of animals.

Wildlife of the Semi- arid Regions of India :
Asiatic Lion, Indian Leopard, Striped Hyaena, Indian Wolf, Desert Fox, Caracal, Desert Cat, Indian Desert Gerbil, Indian Spiny- tailed Lizard, Macqueen’s Bustard, Indian Spotted Creeper, Indian Start Tortoise, Wheatears and more.

Tiger in india

Gangetic Plains Zone

The waters largely of the river Ganga, Brahmaputra and their tributaries drain a massive part of North India. This is the lifeline of India, the alluvial soil of these great rivers provides livelihood and is the food belt of the country.

Wildlife of the Gangetic Plains :
Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Wild Dog, Greater One Horned Rhinoceros, Indian Elephant, Swamp Deer, Asiatic Water Buffalo, Hog Deer, Pygmy Hog, Golden Langur, Capped Langur, Gharial, Otters, Gangetic Dolphin, Gangetic Shark and more.

North East Ape

North East Region

The North-eastern States east of West Bengal, have absolutely the most varied flora and fauna of India. This area represents the transition zone between the Indian, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese bio-geographical regions.

Wildlife of North-East India :
Clouded Leopard, Brow-Antlered Deer or Sangai, Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Leopard, Indian Elephant, Red Panda, Binturong, Linsangs, Hoolock Gibbon, Arunachal Macaque, Assamese Macaque, Macaques, Pig-tailed Macaque and more.

Hard Ground Barasingha - 1

Deccan Plateau Region

The Deccan Plateau makes up the largest of the Biogeographical Zones of India, forming 42% of the total geographic area of India. They are marked by the Central Highlands in their northernmost, below the Gangetic Region.

Wildlife of the Deccan Plateau :
Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Wild Dog, Indian Leopard, Indian Wolf, Striped Hyaena, Jungle Cat, Hard Ground Swamp Deer, Four-Horned Antelope, Indian Gazelle, Nilgai or Blue Bull, Sambar, Chital, Barking Deer, Grey Langur and more.

Nilgiri Tahr

Western Ghats

The oldest mountain range of India, the Western Ghats is a precious ecosystem and of prime importance to India. The highest incidence of endemism in birds, fish, reptiles, insects and amphibians and flora is seen here. The area covers 5% of India’s land mass, yet 27% of all bio-diversity is recorded here.

Wildlife of the Western Ghats :
Lion Tailed Macaque, Bonnet Macaque, Nilgiri Tahr, Nilgiri Marten, Grizzled Giant Squirrel, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Brown Palm Civet, Royal Bengal Tiger and more.

Indian Skimmers

Coastal Region

India’s coastline stretches over 5500 km. Peninsular India is flanked on the Western side by the Arabian Sea, and on the Eastern Side by the Bay of Bengal. In the South, it is met by the Indian Ocean.

Wildlife of the Coastal Region of India :
Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Green Sea Turtle, Whale Shark, Humpback Whale, Blue Whale, Humpback Dolphin, Irrawady Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Spinner Dolphins and more.

Islands

Islands

The islands of India constitute about 0.3% of the land mass of India. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands contribute a huge amount to India’s Biodiversity – almost 10%.
The habitats here are Tropical Evergreen Forest.

Wildlife of the Island Region of India :
Dugong, Spinner Dolphin, Andaman Wild Boar, Andaman Long Tailed Monkey, Nicobar Treeshew, Black-eared Flying Squirrel, Andaman Masked Palm Civet, Andaman Spiny Shrew and more.

Recent Blog Posts

Indian Wildlife pleasantly surprises many.  We have 16% of the world’s tiger population living in less than 1% land mass of this planet. The bio-mass pressure of the human and cattle populations creates a huge pressure on our forests. A worldwide trend where development, and GDP growth is an enemies of the environment.

Indian Wildlife

 

While traveling in rural India you still find people worshipping trees, animals, rivers, and practically everything that is in nature.

This is the reason India has still managed to hold on to some endangered species. The so-called #TigerExperts had given an apocalypse that Tiger shall not survive to see the turn of the 21st century. Tiger survives well into 16 years of the century. Did these experts underestimate their subjects of study, or overestimate their own expertise? Perhaps they were quite right at the time of this prediction, maybe this prognosis served as an alarm bell in the right ears.

For every forest being disrobed, there are many Krishnas prohibiting the same. There are poachers and there are protectors. In summary, the experts saw only one side and predicted. They did not see the human side. But I would still like to thank them for the prediction, cause that woke up a lot of sleeping souls of the society.

An Indian Wildlife savior in Bandhavgarh National Park

I would like to share a true incident I witnessed in #Bandhavgarh National Park in Feb 2016. See the image of the same below the text.

While doing an evening safari in #Bandhavgarh from a distance I noticed a forest guard sitting near the #Rajbhera waterhole. On looking closely we see a cheetal (spotted deer) by his side. The guard was feeding him with water and leaves. Later we asked what happened, he said while patrolling this morning he noticed the old and weak deer almost dying next to the water hole. He fed him with some leaves and water. Thereafter, the deer was able to lift his head in a couple of hours. When he came back in the evening to feed the cheetal, he saw more improvement. I was touched by his gesture, as no one had told him to do that.

We appreciated his work, and what he said after that amazed me, and made me laugh simultaneously. He said, “Sirji hum to tiger ko bhi aise kar dein agar woh karne de”. (Sir, we would treat / handle the #tiger similarly if he allows us to). His voice and eyes had genuine concern and love for animals. Whether the deer survived the night or not, whether he became food of some predator or not, is not important. But what is important is, that we do have a lot of people in our forests doing their job sincerely and silently, away from recognition. In my eyes, he did not only save the cheetal, he saved the tiger, and the forest simultaneously.  This is why I say, that there are Krishna’s working silently saving Indian Wildlife in their own ways.

 

Indian Wilds Savior. A ranger at work in Bandhavgarh

 

I have not lost any hope despite a lot of adversity towards Indian Wildlife. Nature will regenerate, it is powerful enough to take care of itself, it has done so for eons, and will continue to do so eternally.

Best Wishes

Sharad Vats

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