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Around 400 varieties of mammals, 1250 species of birds and 10,000 types of insects and 2546 variety of fish, 197 species of amphibians and 408 reptile species are found in India.
Faunas in India
Mammalian faunas in India
Popular mammals include the Elephant, the famous white lions and some common lions, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Rhinos, Wild Bisons some varieties from the cat family, deer, monkeys, wild goats, etc. Elephants are found in the sparsely populated hilly areas of Karnataka, Kerala and Orissa.
A variety of deer and antelope species are also found but nowadays these are mostly confined to the protected areas. Wild buffaloes, massive Indian bisons (gaurs), shaggy sloth bears, striped hyenas, wild pigs, jackals, Indian foxes, wolves, and Indian wild dogs (dhole) are also found in forests of India.
Lions are found in the rocky hills and Gir forests of Gujarat, Tigers in the Sunderbans and the Brahmaputra valley. Project Tiger was launched by the government of India in 1973-74 to protect the tiger in its natural environment. The project was initially started in nine reserves covering an area of 13,017sq.km. Wild ass is found in Rajasthan, Nilgiri Langur, Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri mongoose and Malaber civer in the southern hills and the spotted deer, Leopards are found in almost all forests, Wolves throughout the country. Cheetahs are found in the Deccan plateau.
Avi-faunas in India
India is blessed with over 1250 species and sub-species of birds. Out of total species, at least 141 species are endemic to this region only. 77 families of birds are found in India. Indian forests includes various birds like large hornbills, serpent eagles and fishing owls, as well as the national bird of India, the beautiful peacock. Waterbirds, such as herons, ibises, storks, cranes, pelicans and others, are also found in India and are commonly seen in parks and sanctuaries.
Bird-Life in India is rich and colorful. The birds include the beautiful Peacock to the Parrots, and thousands of immigrant birds. Other common Indian birds are pheasants, geese ducks, mynahs, parakeets, pigeons, cranes, and hornbills.
Reptiles in India
The reptile life includes over 450 species of reptiles and amphibians, including magnificent king cobras, Kraits, pythons, crocodiles, large freshwater tortoises and monitor lizards. There are also 10,000 insect species like praying mantis, Idiopid spider, Scorpions, locusts, bees, silkworms and the Lac insect
The Himalaya Foothills
The Himalayan foothills include three regions- bhabar, tarai and the Siwalik ranges in the South. The bhabar region is relatively drier. The tarai region is one of the richest areas for monsoon forests and fauna as the typical big mammals of Northern India, the elephant, the swamp deer, cheetal, hog deer, barking deer, wild boar, all are found in this area. Panther, wild dogs, hyena, the jackal, tiger, both the black and the sloth bears are found in this area. Amongst the rodents, porcupine is the most prominent animal of this region. The rare great India One horned rhinoceros is now found in some regions of Assam and Nepal tarai.
The High Altitude Region of Western Himalayas (Kashmir & Western Ladakh to Kumaon)
A belt of coniferous -pine forests separates altitudinal zone i.e. from 1500 mt, to 2500 mt. from the alpine zone. The pine belt is a transition zone for the rich fauna of the alpine zone in the higher altitudes. When the environment in the alpine zone becomes extremely cold in winter, many species move down in this region. With the coming summer as snow melts, the alpine pastures turn green and become the grazing grounds for these animals.
The rare and endangered wild ass is found in cold desert regions of Ladakh and paratactic deserts of Asia. A wellknown member of bovid family- the Yak, has been domesticated for centuries by the people of Tibet and Ladakh but wild yak can still be found.
Three species of wild goats occur in the Indian Himalaya. Thar, Markhor and Ibex. Ibex spreads over mountainous regions all over Central Asia from the Himalaya to the Altai and westwards as far as Spain. Three species of wild sheep are found in Western Himalaya- Nayan, in Ladakh to Tibet. Argali sheep in the Himalaya to Siberia and Bhral or blue sheep occurs in the western himalaya extending to Sikkim and Nepal. Two kinds of antelopes, the chiru and the Tibetan gazelle are also found in the high cold plateau regions of Tibet and adjoining areas.
The musk deer found here is threatened now. Government of Uttar Pradesh launched a project “Musk - deer Breeding Project” to increase the number of Musk deers.
The Eastern Himalayan Sub - Zone
Due to high humidity and higher altitudes than the west snowfall is less common. The animal life is characterized by the presence of Indo-Chinese fauna. The red panda, hog badgers, ferret badgers, crestless sporcupines are archetypal species of this area.
Three varieties of goat antelopes occur in the Eastern Himalaya, namely, Scrow in the eastern Himalayan forests, tropics in Malaya and Sumatra, Goral is found throughout the Himalayan range and Taking are the largest of the goat antelopes found here.
The Peninsular Indian Sub-Region
Peninsular India is characterized by the Deccan plateau extending northwards to the flood pains of the Indo-Gangetic basin and westwards to the Great Thar desert of Rajasthan.
Peninsular India and the Drainage Basin of the Ganges
The deciduous forests in these regions is a home of Elephant, munijak, the auriferous sambar deer and the ubiquitous wild boar. Seladang is found in rain forests of Malaya. Indian mouse deer is also found here.
The four-horned antelope is also found here. The nilgai, the blackbuck and Chinkara gazelle are the other antelopes.