Portal:Indian wildlife

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The Indian wildlife portal

India is home to a variety of animal life. Apart from a handful of domesticated animals, such as cows, water buffaloes, goats, chickens, and both Bactrian and Dromedary camels, India has a wide variety of animals native to the country. It is home to Bengal and Indochinese tigers, Asiatic lions, Indian and Indochinese leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, various species of Deer, including Chital, Hangul, Barasingha; the Indian Elephant, the Great Indian Rhinoceros, and many others. The region's diverse wildlife is preserved in more than 120 national parks, 18 Bio-reserves and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries across the country. India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and contains four of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots – the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas, Indo-Burma and Sunda Land. Wildlife management is essential to preserve the rare and endangered endemic species. India is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries. According to one study, India along with the other 16 megadiverse countries is home to about 60-70% of the world's biodiversity. India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian (bird), 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species.

Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, of which India originally was a part. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards, and collision with, the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic change 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya. As a result, among Indian species, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and the brown and carmine Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. These include the Asian elephant, the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, mugger crocodile, and Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered a near-extinction from ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.

In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 515 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 18 biosphere reserves, 10 of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 26 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.

The peepul tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment. The varied and rich wildlife of India has had a profound impact on the region's popular culture. The wildlife has also been made famous in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. India's wildlife has been the subject of numerous other tales and fables such as the Panchatantra.

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Pictured left: Grasslands of Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga National Park (Assamese: কাজিৰঙা ৰাষ্ট্ৰীয় উদ্যান, is an Indian national park and a World Heritage Site in Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, India. It is refuge for the world's largest population of Great One-horned Rhinoceros. Kaziranga has the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the World and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park has large breeding populations of Elephant, Wild Asian Water Buffalo and Swamp Deer. Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species. The park has achieved notable progress in wildlife conservation with respect to other protected areas in India. Kaziranga is a vast stretch of tall elephant grass, marshland and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests crisscrossed by four main rivers — Brahmaputra, Diphlu, Mora Diphlu and Mora Dhansiri and has numerous small water bodies. Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, documentaries and songs. The park celebrated its centenary in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as a reserve forest.

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An Indian Roller in Kaziranga National Park, Assam

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