Fauna of India

Fauna of India
Posted on 20-08-2023

Biodiversity in India: A Rich Tapestry of Fauna and Conservation Efforts


Fauna encompasses the diverse animal life within a specific region or era. In the varied landscapes of India, with its range of climates and habitats, a remarkable array of wildlife thrives, making the nation home to about 90,000 species—approximately 6.5% of global biodiversity.

Prominent Indian Wildlife:

India's landscapes host a range of iconic animals, such as elephants in Assam, West Bengal, and southern states. The one-horned rhinoceros is exclusive to Assam and West Bengal, notably thriving in sanctuaries like Kaziranga. Wild buffalo reside in Assam and Chhattisgarh, while the Indian bison roams Central India's forests. Tigers inhabit the eastern Himalayan foothills and peninsular India, while desert and jungle cats inhabit the northwest. Yak, used as draught animals, graze in Ladakh, and deer populate various Indian forests. The Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh house the stag or barasingha, while the lower Himalayan slopes are home to the munjac or barking deer. The Indian forests also shelter blackbucks, Indian gazelles, blue bulls, wild dogs, and foxes. Marsh crocodiles (muggers) and long-nosed gharials are significant reptiles.

Avian Diversity:

India boasts around 2,000 bird species, enriching its avian life.

Conservation Imperatives:

The depletion of India's forest cover has adversely impacted wildlife. Urgent measures are essential to safeguard various species:

  1. Strict hunting bans must be enforced.

  2. Existing national parks and sanctuaries require better monitoring and protection facilities.

  3. Public awareness through seminars, workshops, and exhibitions is crucial.

  4. Enhancing breeding conditions within national parks could bolster wildlife populations.

Conservation Initiatives:

  1. Indian Board for Wildlife: Established in 1952, this body advises the government on wildlife conservation and protection, the creation of national parks, sanctuaries, and zoological gardens, and promotes public awareness.

  2. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: Governs conservation and protection, forbidding the hunting of animals listed in Schedules I, II, III, and IV. It allows the establishment of sanctuaries.

  3. Project Tiger (1973): Encompassing 27 reserves, it aims to preserve tiger habitats and ensure a viable population.

  4. Project Elephant (1992): Assists states with wild elephant populations in their long-term survival.

  5. National Wildlife Action Plan: Provides a framework for conservation efforts and oversees their implementation through bodies like the Indian Board of Wildlife.

  6. Biosphere Reserves: Unique ecosystems recognized internationally under UNESCO's MAB program.

  7. IUCN Red List: Classifies Indian fauna based on risk, highlighting critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable species.

India's rich biodiversity showcases a remarkable variety of animal life. Conservation efforts through various projects, laws, and organizations are crucial for protecting and preserving this natural heritage for future generations.

In India, encompassing only about 2 percent of the Earth's land surface, an astounding 7.5% of the world's animal species thrive. The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), headquartered in Kolkata with 16 regional stations, plays a pivotal role in surveying the country's faunal resources. With a remarkable range of climates and physical landscapes, India boasts an impressive fauna count of 92,037 species, with insects alone contributing 61,375 species. Even more remarkable, it's believed that India still harbors roughly twice that number of undiscovered species.

Among the diverse array of mammals, India showcases the regal elephant, the mighty Indian bison or gaur, the impressive Indian rhinoceros, the Himalayan wild sheep of grand proportions, the elegant swamp deer, the distinctive thamin spotted deer, the resilient nilgai, the unique four-horned antelope, and the striking blackbuck, the solitary representative of its genus. Predatory cats such as tigers and lions stand as majestic symbols, while other stunning creatures including the clouded leopard, snow leopard, and marbled cat contribute to the country's captivating wildlife. Numerous other mammal species captivate with their beauty, colors, elegance, and singularity. India's forests and wetlands house a rich avian population, featuring pheasants, geese, ducks, mynahs, parakeets, pigeons, cranes, hornbills, and sunbirds.

Rivers and lakes play host to crocodiles and gharials, the latter being the sole representative of the crocodilian order globally. The eastern coast and Andaman and Nicobar Islands shelter the saltwater crocodile. A crocodile breeding project initiated in 1974 has played a pivotal role in safeguarding these creatures from extinction.

The lofty Himalayan range unfolds an intriguing assortment of fauna, including wild sheep, goats, markhors, ibex, shrews, and tapirs. The panda and snow leopard reside in the mountain's upper reaches.

Challenges loom as vegetative cover diminishes due to agricultural expansion, habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution, and disruptions to community balance through toxic imbalances, epidemics, floods, droughts, and cyclones. Over 39 mammal species, 72 bird species, 17 reptile species, three amphibian species, two fish species, and a plethora of butterflies, moths, and beetles are classified as vulnerable and endangered.

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