Wildlife of India
Himalayan Mountain System
- West Himalayas have low rainfall, heavy snowfall (temperate conditions), whereas, in the eastern Himalayas, there is heavy rainfall, snowfall only at very high altitudes, whereas at lower altitudes conditions are similar to the tropical rain forests.
- Flora and fauna of both Himalayas differ.
Note – don’t worry about names they will be covered in detail in the later chapter.
1. Himalayan foothills
Monsoon evergreen and semi-evergreen forests.
Species – sal, silkcotton trees, giant bamboos; tall grassy meadow with savannahs in tarai.
Big mammals like elephant, sambar, swamp deer, cheetal, hog deer, barking deer, wild boar tiger, panther, wild dogs, hyena, black bear, sloth bear, porcupine, Great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, wild buffalo, Gangetic gharial, golden langur. (don’t worry all of them will be covered in red data book).
2. Western Himalayas (High altitude region)
Natural monsoon evergreen and semi-evergreen forests.
Rhododendrons, dwarf hill bamboo and birch forests mixed with alpine pastures.
Wild ass, wild goats (thar, markhor, ibex) and sheep (Nayan, Marcopolo’s sheep, bharal
or blue sheep), antelopes (Chiru and Tibetan gazelle), deers (hangul of Kashmir stag and
shou or Sikkim stag, musk deer), marmots and pikas or mouse hares, golden eagle, snow
cocks, snow partridges, snow leopard, wolf, fox, cats, black and brown bears.
Birds – Himalayan monal pheasant, western trogopan, Koklass, white crested khalij
cheer pleasant; Griffon vultures, lammergiers, choughs, ravens.
3. Eastern Himalayas
Oaks, magnolias, laurels and birches covered with moss and ferns.
Coniferous forests of pine, fir, yew and junipers with undergrowth of scrubby
rhododendrons and dwarf bamboos.
Lichens, moss, orchids, and other epiphytes dominant (due to high humidity and high
Red panda, hog badgers forest badgers, crestless porcupines, goat antelopes (Scrow,
Peninsular – Indian sub-region
It has two zones –
1. Peninsular India and its extension into the drainage basin of the river system
2. Desert region of Rajasthan – the Thar of Indian desert region.
1. Peninsular India.
It is home to tropical moist deciduous to tropical dry deciduous and scrub vegetation
depending upon the variation in rainfall and humidity.
North and east extensions – Sal (higher rainfall)
Southern plateau – teak trees
West Ghats – evergreen vegetation (flora and fauna similar to evergreen rainforests of
In dry areas of Rajasthan and Aravalli hills – scattered trees and thorny scrub
Elephant, wild boar, deers (cheetal or axis deer), hog deer swamp deer or barasinga, sambar, muntjak or barking deer, antelopes (four-hourned antelope, nilgai, blackbuck, chinkara, gazelle), wild dog or dhole, tiger, leopard, cheetah, lion, wild pig, monkey, striped hyena, jackal gaur.
2. Indian Desert
Thorny trees with reduced leaves, cacti, other succulents are the main plants.
Mostly burrowing one animals.
Rodents among mammals – largest group (like Indian desert gerbils (they are mouse
Other animals – wild ass, black buck, desert cat, caracal, red fox, reptiles (snakes, lizards
Desert lizards include agamids, lacertids and geckos.
Birds – Great Indian bustard.
The tropical rain forest region
Distribution – areas of Western Ghats and North East India.
Evergreen vegetation known as “sholas” occur in the Nilgiris (an offshoot of Western
| They also occur in Aanaimalai and Palani hills.|
| The rain forests have dense and lofty trees with much species diversity.|
| Mosses, ferns, epiphytes, orchids, lianas and vines, herbs, shrubs make diverse habitat.|
| Ebony trees predominate in these forests.|
| A variety of tropical orchids are found.|
| Stratification (layers of tress and plants) in rain forests is very distinct – 3 horizontal|
|layers are distinguished.|
There are wild elephants, gaur and other larger animals.
Most species are tree dwellers.
o Most prominent – hoolock gibbon (only ape found in India), golden langur,
capped langur or leahnonkey, Assam macaque and the pig-tailed macaque, liontailed macaque, Nilgiri langur slender loris.
o Bats, giant squirrel, civets, flying squirrels, Nilgiri mongoose, spiny mouse.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands
These are home for tropical rain forests.
Giant Dipterocarpus, Terminalia and Lagerstroemia are dominant.
Mangroves are also distributed in the coastal areas.
A number of reptiles and marine animals occur in this area.
Among mammals, bats and rats predominate (3/4th of the total mammals on islands).
Andaman pig, crab-eating macaque, palm civet and deer’s (spotted deer, barking deer,
hog deer, sambar).
Among marine mammals there are dugong, false killer whale, dolphin.
Among birds are rare one is Narcondum hombill, Nicobar pigeon and megapode. There
are also other birds likewhite-bellied sea-eagle, white-breasted swiftlet and several fruit pigeons.
Salt-water crocodile, a number of marine turtles, coconut crab, lizards (the largest being water monitor), 40 species of snakes includingcobra, viper, voral and sea snake, python, etc. are present.
Mangrove swamps of Sundarbans
Sundarbans are Delta of the Ganges where both the Brahmaputra and Ganges join and
drain into the Bay of Bengal.
The lower tidal zones are pioneer trees like Sonneratia and avicennia.
Above this zone there are rhizophora, bruguiria and excaecaria-cereops forest (covering
nearly 70% of mangrove forest).
Above this level there are supporting forest of phoneix in association with excaecaria.
There are heriteria forest in the highest portion with thick undergrowth phoneix and
neepa plams. (in short – lower to highest – Pioneer trees → cereops forest → supporting
forest → heriteria forest)
Fish, small crabs, dorippe (the one that has unusual association with sea anemone), weaver ants.
In the higher regions of mangroves, there are spotted deer, pigs, monitor lizard,
The most interesting animal of Sunderbans is the Royal Bengal Tiger.