Indian Wildlife – India’s land mass is 2.4 % of the total land area on this planet but its contribution to world’s biodiversity is app. 8% of the total number of species.
India is a hot-spot for biodiversity with its various ecosystems ranging from the Himalayas in the north to the evergreen rain-forest of the south, the desert sands of the west to the marshy mangroves of the east. This richness in Indian wildlife has been celebrated since yesteryears: four of India’s national symbols display India’s mammals.
The current status of India’s wildlife is thanks to the fact that dense forests once covered the Indian sub-continent. The importance of these green protectors of environment goes back to the times of Chandra Gupta Maurya, who was the first to appoint an officer to manage and oversee the forest wealth. Buddha also preached about the importance of planting trees, urging everyone to plant a tree every few years. Felling of forest land accelerated with the invasion of the Mughals and during the early British rule, where resources such as sandalwood and teak were exported. With India’s independence and transfer of power to the government, new protection measures to protect natural resources and Indian wildlife started to come into place. The first Forest Policy was established in 1952, with an intent to maintain a third of land under forest cover. Today with a host of institutes and organizations focussing on environmental conservation, forest and wildlife protection seem to be at the core of government’s agendas under the banner of Climate Change initiatives.
As on 2014-15, there are 668 Protected Areas including 102 National Parks, 515 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 47 Conservation Reserves and 4 Community Reserves covering a total of 1,61,221.57 km2 of geographical area which is approximately 4.90% of the country. In addition there are 47 Tiger Reserves, 18 Biosphere Reserves, 25 Elephant Reserves, 5 Natural World Heritage sites and 25 Ramsar Wetland sites in India. It is no wonder that despite incessant encroachment by mankind on the green reserves, India boasts of a vast diversity of both flora and fauna. India Forest lands nurture about 400 species of mammals and 2000+ species of birds. India is located at the junction of three realms namely Afro-tropical, Indo-Malayan and Paleo-Arctic, and therefore, has characteristic elements from each of them, spurring migration of avifauna from these regions. As far as mammals are concerned, India is the only country with both the lion and the tiger and it has the largest deer population. Indigenous to the subcontinent are the unique species such as the Indian Sloth Bear, the Chausinga antelope and the majestic Barasinga. A land fondly called as the “Land of the Tiger”, the latest census (2015) of tigers in India by the National Tiger Conservation Authority estimate a tiger population of 2226, a 30 % increase from the year before.
Come, let’s embark upon this beautiful journey into the jungles of our land and experience the great Indian wildlife !