India > Wild Life
India has 93 national parks and 486 wildlife sanctuaries, which constitute about 4.7% of the entire country and play a paramount role in flora and fauna protection. There are 14 biosphere reserves, established to conserve the diversity of ecosystems and promote research into ecological conservation. Most parks offer jeep/van tours, lion safari, elephant safari, boat trips, watch towers and hides for close up.
- East Zone : Orissa, West Bengal, Assam
- North Zone : Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh
- West Zone : Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh
- South Zone : Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh
Owing to events that took place as far back as 25 million years, the region has been endowed with a truly unique variety of life forms. These creatures had to adjust to the very special environment created when the break-away island that was to form the Indian peninsula met with the Asian mainland in the cataclysmic birth of the Himalayas. The mountains, foothills and plain house a zoo geographic diversity ranging from Oriental to Paleactic flora and fauna.
The animals that are to be protect are, of course, 'stars' in their own rights! Witness the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the common leopard (Panthera pardus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), the Himalayan black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus), the hangul (Cervus elaphus hanglu), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), markhor (Capra falconeri), musk deer (Moschus moschiferus), yellow-throated marten (Martes flavigula) and the shapu (Ovis orientalis) to name just a random shortlist! Above the mighty peaks soar grand raptors - golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos hodgsoni), lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus), black eagles (Ictinaetus malayenis), kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), hobbys (Falco subbuteo centralasiea), griffon vultures (Gyps himalayensis), Asiatic Lions, Bengal Tigers, Bysons, Rhino, several forms of monkeys, and many more.
Great stands of deodar (Cedrus deodara) and blue pine (Pinus wallichiana) clothe high slopes, while oak (Quercus dilatates), walnut (Juglans regia), mulberry (Morus alba) and horsechestnut deliver their bounty of fruit and leaf fodder to the animals lower down. No one fully catalogued this rich diversity, and the country continues to provide a fertile field laboratory for scores of ornithologists, entymologists, botanists and zoologists. On numerous occasions luck fossil-hunters have been rewarded with discoveries of ammonites, starfish and even sharks, etched for eternity in the stones of silence-all evidence of the original submarine existence of the region.
In truth, our task is not being performed out of a sense of 'duty' to our follow creatures. We realise how vital the health of our woodlands is for the well being of our people. Soil consevation, fresh water supply, sustainable fruit and fuel yields-all are dependent on the health of our forest land. The animals that are to be seen in forests are the beneficiaries of several conservation ventures including high altitude sanctuaries and ambitious afforestation drives.