Fauna and Flora Geography: Wild Animals, Animals, Birds, Reptiles, Mammals, Trees and Plants and others
Flora is the name given to the collective plant life that grows or once grew in a certain area or during a given time period. It usually refers to the native plant life present but does include new species that have been introduced as well. The flora and fauna of the earth have names derived from Latin.
Plant life on the earth can be distinguished from each other in a number of ways. The simplest is to divide on the basis of region. Plants that grow specifically in the mountains will be very different from those that grow in the desert. Similarly, the plants that have adapted to living underwater are treated as a unique form of flora. Scientists can also study ‘Fossil Flora’, which comprises of plant life that was found in pre-historic times. The current flora and fauna of the earth is also divided on the basis of the environment in which it is grown or seen naturally.
Fauna on the other hand, is the name given to collective animal life that lives or was once found in a certain area or time period. In Latin, Fauna is derived from three different sources. Fauna by itself was the name of a Roman goddess representing fertility and the earth and Faunus was another Roman god. And then there were Fauns, which were known to be forest spirits.
Both the flora and fauna of the earth have been given sub-divisions. Fauna is also distinguished in many different ways. However, these ways are much more complex than floral divisions because animal life has evolved into many different forms.
Fauna of india
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), with its headquarters in Kolkata and 16 regional stations is responsible for surveying the faunal resources of India. Possessing a tremendous diversity of climate and physical conditions, India has great variety of fauna, numbering 89,451 species, which include protista, mollusca, anthropoda, amphibia, mammalia, reptilia, members of protochordata, pisces, aves and other invertebrates.
The mammals include the majestic elephant, the gaur or Indian bison – the largest of existing bovines, the great Indian rhinoceros, the gigantic wild sheep of the Himalayas, the swamp deer, the thamin spotted deer, nilgai, the four-horned antelope, the Indian antelope or black-buck – the only representatives of these genera. Among the cats, the tiger and lion are the most magnificent of all; other splendid creatures such as the clouded leopard, the snow leopard, the marbled cat, etc., are also found. Many other species of mammals are remarkable for their beauty, colouring, grace and uniqueness. Several birds, like pheasants, geese, ducks, mynahs, parakeets, pigeons, cranes, hornbills and sun birds inhabit forests and wetlands.
Rivers and lakes harbour crocodiles and gharials, the latter being the only representative of crocodilian order in the world. The salt-water crocodile is found along the eastern coast and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A project for breeding crocodiles, started in 1974, has been instrumental in saving the crocodile from extinction.
The great Himalayan range has a very interesting variety of fauna that includes the wild sheep and goats, markhor, ibex, shrew and tapir. The panda and the snow leopard are found in the upper reaches of the mountains.
Depletion of vegetative cover due to expansion of agriculture, habitat destruction, over-exploitation, pollution, introduction of toxic imbalance in community structure, epidemics, floods, droughts and cyclones, contribute to the loss of flora and fauna. More than 39 species of mammals, 72 species of birds, 17 species of reptiles, three species of amphibians, two species of fish, and a large number of butterflies, moth, and beetles are considered vulnerable and endangered.
Fauna of Andhra pradesh
Andhra Pradesh’s undulating terrain, deep forests, valleys, cliffs and the two largest rivers-Krishna and Godavari- flowing through the state make it a region rich in biodiversity that has evolved as a natural habitat for wildlife. Step into the wild side of heritage and explore Andhra’s wonderful fauna including wild boars, hyenas, langurs, jackals and more found across sanctuaries and national parks such as the Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary in Srisailam, Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary near Kakinada, Sri Venkateshwara National Park in Tirupati, and Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary close to Chittor. A few that top the list are here.
These magnificent big cats have become more visible in Andhra Pradesh thanks to conservation efforts by the government through reserves, like Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary, also India’s largest tiger reserve. Primarily preying on deer and bovids, tigers are territorial and solitary but sociable creatures at the same time.
A highly-endangered species due to illegal poaching, loss of habitat and fragmentation, Asian elephants play a critical role in maintaining the region’s forests. Smaller than African elephants they can weigh up to 5 tonnes, and can be identified by smaller, rounder ears. You can spot them at the Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, near Chittor that is the only sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh with a population of Asian elephants that migrated 200 years ago.
Another one in the family of ‘big cats’ the leopard can be differentiated by rosettes on its fur making for a well-camouflaged body. The leopard is known for opportunistic hunting behaviour, broad diet and strength used to carry heavy carcasses to tree tops. Head to the Coringa or Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary to spot these cats.
Lankier than brown and black bears, sloth bears have long shaggy coats forming a mane around its neck, and white claws. Though they may appear slow and clumsy, both young and adult bears are excellent climbers. Watch them in action at the Coringa or Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary.
This large deer native to the Indian sub-continent stands out in the wild with its rugged antlers. Nocturnal and crepuscular, the males live alone for most of the year, while females live in small herds of up to 16. Go to Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary to watch these creatures.
Golden with white spots, the spotted deer’s antlers are three-pronged and nearly one -meter long. They usually move in a single file on a track, with a distance of two-three times their width between them, usually while foraging for food and water and can be seen at Rajiv Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Flora of india
With a wide range of climatic conditions from the torrid to the arctic, India has a rich and varied vegetation, which only a few countries of comparable size possess. India can be divided into eight distinct-floristic-regions, namely, the western Himalayas, the eastern Himalayas, Assam, the Indus plain, the Ganga plain, the Deccan, Malabar and the Andamans.
The Western Himalayan region extends from Kashmir to Kumaon. Its temperate zone is rich in forests of chir, pine, other conifers and broad-leaved temperate trees. Higher up, forests of deodar, blue pine, spruce and silver fir occur. The alpine zone extends from the upper limit of the temperate zone of about 4,750 metres or even higher. The characteristic trees of this zone are high-level silver fir, silver birch and junipers. The eastern Himalayan region extends from Sikkim eastwards and embraces Darjeeling, Kurseong and the adjacent tract. The temperate zone has forests of oaks, laurels, maples, rhododendrons, alder and birch. Many conifers, junipers and dwarf willows also occur here. The Assam region comprises the Brahmaputra and the Surma valleys with evergreen forests, occasional thick clumps of bamboos and tall grasses. The Indus plain region comprises the plains of Punjab, western Rajasthan and northern Gujarat. It is dry and hot and supports natural vegetation. The Ganga plain region covers the area which is alluvial plain and is under cultivation for wheat, sugarcane and rice. Only small areas support forests of widely differing types. The Deccan region comprises the entire tableland of the Indian Peninsula and supports vegetation of various kinds from scrub jungles to mixed deciduous forests. The Malabar region covers the excessively humid belt of mountain country parallel to the west coast of the Peninsula. Besides being rich in forest vegetation, this region produces important commercial crops, such as coconut, betel nut, pepper, coffee and tea, rubber and cashew nut. The Andaman region abounds in evergreen, mangrove, beach and diluvia forests. The Himalayan region extending from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh through Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Meghalaya and Nagaland and the Deccan Peninsula is rich in endemic flora, with a large number of plants which are not found elsewhere.
India is rich in flora. Available data place India in the tenth position in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. From about 70 per cent geographical area surveyed so far, 47,000 species of plants have been described by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Kolkata. The vascular flora, which forms the conspicuous vegetation cover, comprises 15,000 species. Of these, more than 35 per cent is endemic and has so far not been reported anywhere in the world. The flora of the country is being studied by the BSI and its nine circle/field offices located throughout the country along with certain universities and research institutions.
Ethno-botanical study deals with the utilisation of plants and plant products by ethnic races. A scientific study of such plants has been made by BSI. A number of detailed ethno-botanical explorations have been conducted in different tribal areas of the country. More than 800 plant species of ethno-botanical interest have been collected and identified at different centres.
Owing to destruction of forests for agricultural, industrial and urban development, several Indian plants are facing extinction. About 1,336 plant species are considered vulnerable and endangered. About 20 species of higher plants are categorised as possibly extinct as these have not been sighted during the last 6-10 decades. BSI brings out an inventory of endangered plants in the form of a publication titled Red Data Book.
Flora of Andhra pradesh
There are about 3000 wild and naturalized species of angiosperms; 3 species of gymnosperms and 72 species of Pteridophytes and 100 species of bryophytes in the state of Andhra Pradesh. There are about 550 species of trees, 285 shrubs, 1765 herbs and 300 climbers. The five dominant angiosperm families are legumes (Fabaceae) and grasses (Poaceae) with over 300 species followed by sedges (Cyperaceae)-140 species and spurges (euphorbiaceae), 125 species. The dominant angiosperm genera are Crotalaria with 44 species followed by Cyperus with 33 species, Euphorbia with 30 species. several himalayan species are reported from the state. These include Saussurea heteromalla, Bulbophyllum cariniflorum, Dillenia aurea, Arundinellla benghalensis. There are about 68 strict endemic plant species are there in the state.
Tropical semi-evergreen forests
These are moist deciduous forests mixed with evergreen elements distributed at an altitude of around 800m and found in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, srikakulam and east Godavari districts. Common species are: Michelia champaca, Dillenia pentagyna, Psychortia fulva, and Leea crispa.
Tropical moist deciduous forests
These are typical deciduous forests with high annual rainfall of over 1000mm. These are of three types. northern Tropical Moist deciduous sal forests- only in srikakulam district and dominated by sal (Shorea robusta). southern Tropical Moist deciduous Forests-found in the districts of Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Godavari, Kurnool and Chittoor. The dominant species are: Terminalia alata, Anogeissus latifolia, Pterocarpus marsupium, Sterculia urens. southern Tropical Moist deciduous riparian Forests – common along riverbanks especially Godavari. These forests are commonly seen with semi evergreen species like Terminalia arjuna and Syzygium cumini.
Tropical dry deciduous forests
These are common throughout the state and are characterized by leaf-fall by most of the tree species during summer season. These are classified into teak, non-teak and mixed deciduous types dry deciduous Teak forests distributed mostly in eastern ghats of Visakhapatnam, Godavari and Kurnool districts and dominated by Teak (Tectona grandis). dry deciduous non-Teak forests-found in the districts of rayalaseema and sPsr nellore and are dominated by Pterocarpus santalinus in southern eastern Ghats; Gyrocarpus americanus in Anantapur district; Boswellia ovalifoliolata, Cycas beddomei in Tirumala hills. Mixed dry deciduous forests – are common in drier localities in rayalaseema dominated by Hardwickia binata and Pterocarpus marsupium.
Dry evergreen forests
Occurs in coastal and plain areas with a rainfall of about 600 mm and below at an altitude of less than 250m. These forests are found in Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, srikakulam, sPsr nellore and Chittoor districts. The common species are Manilkara hexandra, Albizia amara, Sapindus emarginatus.
Thorny scrub forests
These are degraded deciduous forests due to biotic interference and are widely distributed in arid and semiarid parts of eastern Ghats especially in forest peripheries and common species are Capparis zeylanica, Ziziphus mauritiania, Euphorbia antiquorum, Dichrostachys cinerea.