Wildlife Resources in India

There is a  close interdependence and interrelationship between vegetation and wildlife in a given area. It is because forests and grasslands are the main habitats of animals. Animals live where food is available. They ire also adapted to climate and other conditions prevailing in a given region. Because of this adaptation changes in environment may also bring about changes in animal life leading to migration and evolution of new species.

Mountain Animals : Animals living in forests on mountains vary according to altitude as does vegetation. There are grasslands known as meadows in forests above tree line found on mountains. These meadows support a wide variety of animals like shrew, tapir, markhor and ibex (a wild goat found in Himalayas in Laddakh), gour or Indian bison in Assam, and yak, an ox-like Tibetan mammal. All of these animals are domesticated in mountain areas and are prized for their wool, hides and some even for meat. Other animals found on lower slopes of mountains where trees are found a variety of colourful birds, eagles and other birds of prey are also found. In the lower forested slopes bears, deer, mink and stouts are found. In snowcapped Western Himalayas are found animals like snow leopard, insects, spiders and ice worms. Pandas are also found on the Nepalese side of forests.

Tropical Rain forests:  These provide enough food and shelter to animals. It is reported that about 30 million species of animals in tropical rain forests have not been identified so far. These forests have plentiful tree living animals as well as at ground level. Eagles, tree frogs, frogs, flying dragons, monkeys, gibbons. At the ground level are jaguars, tapirs. In the Himalayan rain forests in Assam is found the one-homed rhinoceros. It is found nowhere in the world. Near the water courses in the Western Ghat rain forests are also found crocodiles and turtles.

In the Deciduous forests in India are found lions in the Gir forest in Gujarat. Other animals include cheetah, musk deer and bears. Elephants like to rush through thickets and clumps of trees in group to make a path for themselves. The spotted deer and other types of deer and many monkeys live in these forests. In temperate regions, the animals of deciduous forests include bears, deer, wolves, porcupires, badgers opossums and wildbears. Near the water courses are found frogs, musk rats, salamanders, turtles. A great number of birds live in bushes or on trees. Famous among Indian forest birds are parakes pigeons, cranes, hombills and sun birds. In Kerala, elephants are also found in these forests. Elephant also live in Himalayan forests in Assam.

Animals of the deserts have special bodies and ways of life that helps them to survive under harsh conditions. In Western Rajasthan black buck, the Great Indian bustard and the Indian gazelle are found. Many types of insects, lizards, vipers, scorpions and tortoises, fox and the camel, typical of many other deserts, are also found in India. The light coloured skin of desert dwellers helps them to reflect sunlight and keep cool. Examples are foxes and beautiful pin-tail sandgrouse and many vipers. Burrowing animals are also adapted to deserts. Tortoises, lizards, squirrels, frogs and a variety of snails dig holes underground or find habitats under rock-crevices or under desert bushes. These animals are also found in mainly arid areas of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. World famous Indian King Cobra or Naja Naja (Naga Raja) and slender nosed crocodiles escape the midday heat by retreating into burrows. The Indian Cobra has spectacle like markings on its hood.

Forests and Wildlife Resources

The trees in forests together with a wide variety of animals that they support from the largest terrestrial community on earth. The forest wealth is also an invaluable gift of nature to man. In early history of the earth about one-fourth of its surface was covered with forests. Various factors have contributed to dwindling forest wealth on earth. However, in the past it has happened over millions of years. For most of his history man too was a part of this forest life. Since his coming out of forests, man began to make use of forests, first for organisation of space and then to satisfy his other needs and wants. This changed his relationship with the natural environment vis-a-vis other species of lifeforms.

Ecosystems

The relationship between plants, animals and their physical environment is very complex one. The broad areas in which the organisms function together with their non-living environment are called ecosystems. There is constant interchange of materials between the organisms and their
physical environment. While plants use the resources of their non-living environment, animals depend on plants for their food or on other animals. Man, however, depends on both plants, animals and his physical environment for satisfaction of his needs. In an ecosystem there is constant interchange of materials as well as interdependence. Further, the ecosystems are such that flow of energy and materials takes place across their boundaries as well. For this reason ecosystems are regarded as open systems. Ecosystems may take from thousands to millions of years to
evolve but they can never evolve to their original state nor can
be duplicated by man. This ecosystem constitutes the basic unit
for studying forest and wildlife resources.

Vegetation and Wildlife in India

Vegetation in India

Ancient India was very rich in forests. There were forests of deodar, blue pine and oak in the Himalayas above the level of 5000 feet. A strong growth of chir pine was often found in the Himalayas between 3000 and 5000 feet. The hills in the north-western districts of the Punjab were covered with low scrubs including in some parts a dwarf palm and wild olive. The pipal, bor or banyan and shisham or tall were popular trees.

In the dry plains of Punjab, Eastern Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Southern Haryana, Maiwa Plateau, Kamataka Plateau the scrub jungles mostly consisted of jand, jal, karir, shisham, khaxr. These are hard
wood trees and are used for making agricultural implements, furnitures and carts.

Agricultural Products:  There were two harvests in the plains of the Northern India- the autumn or Kharif and the spring or the Rabi The important agricultural crops in the Northern plains were wheat,
rice, grams, barley, maize, bajra, sugarcane, cotton, mung, mash, moth, oilseeds, carrots, peas, beans, onions, turnips and melons.

In the fertile regions of North India, of the cultivated fruit, mango, mulberry peach, guava and pears were grown. In the Deccan, besides the foodgrams, the spices like black pepper, ginger, cardamom etc were grown.

Wildlife in India

In ancient India, wildlife was also rich and varied. Tigers were common in almost all parts of India till the nineteenth century. The famous Bengal tigers were found in the Sunderbans, the tidal forests. Leopards were to be found in low hills and sometimes they strayed into the plains. The Himalayan ranges had wild sheep, mountain goats, the Ibex and langoors. Wolves were seen occasionally and jackals were very common. The graceful little chikaras or ravine deers were found in sandy tracts and hogdeer near rivers. Nilgais were less common. Monkeys were found in the hills. Elephants and the rhinos were found in the Assam region.

Peafowis were seen in the Punjab and Rajasthan. The sisa and chikor were found in the hills. Quails frequented the ripening fields in April and the end of September. The green parrots, crows and vultures were familiar sight in all parts of the country. Crocodiles haunted the big rivers like the Ganges. Tortoises were also found in the rivers. Poisonous snakes like karats, the cobra and Russel’s viper were mostly found in Bengal. India had a variety of domestic animals. Cows and the buffaloes were the most important and goats, donkeys and horses were found in large numbers. Camels and pack animals were mostly found in Sindh and Rajasthan.