India is a vast treasurehouse
of an unlimited range of fauna. As many as
75,000 species are to be found in the various
parts of the subcontinent, of which 340 species
are mammals, 1200 birds, 420 reptiles, 140
amphibians, 2000 fishes, 5000 insects, 4000
mollusks and several other species of invertebrates.
Mammals include the elephant,
associated from time immemorial with mythology
and splendour of India’s pageantry.
Other animals, unique to India, are the
gaur or Indian bison, the Indian
buffalo, nilgai or the Indian bull,
chowsingha or the four horned antelope,
ghorkhur or the Indian wild ass
and the great one-horned rhinoceros. There
are several species of deer, viz the rare
Kashmiri stag, swamp deer, spotted deer,
musk deer, thiamin (antlered deer)
and the mouse deer.
– the national animal
the animals of prey, the Asiatic lion, an inhabitant
of the Gir Forest in western India (Gujarat),
is the only lion to be found in the world outside
Africa. Of the 5 world wide known species of
tigers, the Royal Bengal tiger, inhabits the
forests of the subcontinent, particularly those
inhabiting the Mangroves of Sunderbans
(literally: beautiful forests) in West Bengal.
The other species of the cat family include
the leopard, the clouded leopard, the snow leopard,
and the various species of smaller jungle cats.
Several species of monkeys
and langurs are common. The only ape found in
India, the hoolock gibbon is confined to the
rain forests of the eastern region. The lion-tailed
macaque, with a halo of hair around its face
is found in the south.
Bird life in India is very rich and colourful.
The Indian peacock, the national bird of India
is one of the most beautiful birds, particularly
the male, which has a blue neck, a fan shaped
crest and a long magnificent multi-coloured
tail. Peacocks are confined to dry habitats
in northern India.
The Himalayas have an interesting range of fauna
that includes wild sheep and goats, like the
morkhor (Astore Markhor) and the ibex.
There are the pandas and the snow leopards too.
We can boast of a rich diversity of reptiles,
amphibians and fish.
Among the reptiles are the leather-backed turtle
(the largest species of living turtles), tortoise
shell turtles(which have the hardest outer shell
and this shell is often bullet proof), green
Peacock -the national
crocodiles consist mainly of two species, the
gharialn, and the mugger which
is a marsh crocodile and is often known as the
water monster. There are a large number of snakes,
and India is home to the largest poisonous snake,
king cobra, found mainly near the desert areas.
With a landmass of 329 million
hectares and a coastline of 7516 kms, mountains,
deserts, wetlands and islands, India provides
not only a spectrum of geographical diversity
but also an interesting range of flora and fauna.
To protect this vast range
of animal species, there are a number of national
parks and sanctuaries, mostly run by the Indian
Government, in addition to several projects
and initiatives by the Government and Non-Government
organizations, specially created to conserve
and to maintain our wildlife heritage. Prominent
among these are the Project Tiger (since1973),
the Gir Lion Sanctuary Project (since 1972)
and the Crocodile Breeding Project (since 1975),
to name a few.