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Profile of India

Dr. Vinod Khanna

Zoological Survey of India,

Dehra Dun

Ever since the happening of the earth summit at Rio De Janeiro, Brazil the term biodiversity has become a buzzword. In fact it is the contracted form of Biological Diversity . The term 'biodiversity' encompasses the variety of all life on earth. It is identified as the variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are part, including diversity within and between species and ecosystems.

variety, variability,between genes, species and ecosystems

Quite simply it can be defined as

Biodiversity manifests itself at three levels:

Species diversity which refers to the numbers and kinds of living organisms Genetic diversity, which refers to the genetic variation within a population of species. Ecosystem diversity, which is the variety of habitats, biological communities and ecological processes that occur in the biosphere.

Quite Often asked Question ?

Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Biological diversity affects us all.

Biological diversity has direct consumptive value in food, agriculture, medicine, industry. It also has aesthetic and recreational value. Biodiversity maintains ecological balance and continues evolutionary process. The indirect ecosystem services provided through biodiversity are photosynthesis, pollination, transpiration, chemical cycling, nutrient cycling, soil maintenance, climate regulation, air, water system management, and waste treatment and pest control.

Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) The three preambles of Biodiversity are:

Conservation of Biodiversity Sustainable use of Biodiversity and leaving enough for the future generations. Fair and equitable sharing of Profits arising out of the use of biodiversity


India is one of the twelve-mega biodiversity countries of the world and one of the four in Asia.

Megabiodiversity? :Countries that

contain as much as 7-8% per cent of the world's species.
The twelve Megabiodiversity countries that have been identified are : India,Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Madagascar, Zaire, Australia, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.


Since India lies at the confluence of African, European and Indo-Malaysian region the biota therefore, includes African,European , Eurasian and Mediterranean elements, which together with Indian and endemic elements contributes to the richness of the characteristic Indian biodiversity.

II-Biogeographic Diversity in India

NE Himalyas

Western Ghats

India has ten biogeographic regions 1.The TransHimalayan, 2. The Himalayan, 3.The Indian desert, 4.The Semi-arid zone(s), 5.The Western Ghats 6. The Deccan Peninsula, 7. The Gangetic Plain, 8. The Northeast India, 9. The Islands and 10. The Coasts

III-Habitats and Ecosystems: India has a rich

and varied heritage of biodiversity, encompassing a wide Spectrum of Ecosystems from Tropical rainforests to alpine vegetation Temperate forests to coastal, Marine to freshwater wetlands ,Rivers, Lakes,Ponds,Mangroves, Corals etc., Semi-arid to Arid, Plains to Himalaya, to Islands.

IV. The other important features that contribute to Indias rich biodiversity are 1 Physiography of India: Although nearly half of India lies outside tropics in the middle latitudes,
it is customary to speak of India as a tropical country, since the region is shielded of by the Himalayas in the north from the rest of Asia and has the same general type of tropical monsoon climate throughout the land. 2.Variety

in elevation and local climate

3. Wetlands: India has a rich variety of wetland habitats, may be manmade or natural where the soilremains waterlogged or submerged for whole or part of year upon which the wetland biota depends.

4. Forests: The panorama of Indian forests ranges from evergreen tropical rain forests in the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Western Ghats, and the northeastern states, to dry alpine scrub high in the Himalaya to the north. . Between the two extremes, the country has semi-evergreen rain forests, deciduous monsoon forests, thorn forests, subtropical pine forests in the lower montane zone and temperate montane forests

5. Marine Environment :rich fishing grounds.,Coral reefs


and a number of islands opposite Sri

Hot Spots
India figured with two hotspots in an identification of 25 of the world's biologically richest and most threatened ecosystems. These 2 hotspots that extend into India are the Western Ghats/Sri Lanka and the Indo-Burma region (covering the Eastern Himalayas); and they are included amongst the top eight most important hotspots.

The hotspots are the areas with higher concentration of endemic species and which usually experience rapid rate of habitat modifications and loss.

1. Western Ghats: Faced with tremendous population pressure the forests of Western Ghats and Srilanka have been dramatically impacted by demands for agriculture and Timber.The Region is home to rich endemic assemblage of Plants, reptiles and amphibians as well as elephants, tiger and endangered Lion tailed Macaque

2. NE Himalayas: Himalayas is home to worlds highest mountains , including Mt.Everest. Abrupt rise in rise of mountains results in diversity of ecosystems that range from Alluvial grasslands and subtropical broad leaved forests to alpine meadows above the tree line. Its a home to a variety of large birds, mammals, including tiger, elephants rhinos and wild water buffaloes.


UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State Parties (countries) aims


catalogue, name, and preserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humankind. The Programme was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 182 State Parties have ratified the convention. As of 2006, a total of 830 sites are listed: 644 cultural, 162 natural, and 24 mixed properties, in 138 States Parties. Each World Heritage Site is the property of the country on whose territory the site is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international community to preserve each site for future generations of humankind. The protection and conservation of these sites are a concern of all the World Heritage countries.

World Heritage Sites in India

The world body has listed 23 Heritage Sites in India, which includes following five Protected Areas of great conservation significance to be a part of World Culture and Heritage: 1.Kaziranga National Park, Assam 2.Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Assam 3.Keoladaeo National Park, Rajasthan 4.Sunderbans National Park,West Bengal and 5.Nanda Devi National Park, Uttaranchal

* Five Protected Areas in India as World Heritage Sites

Biosphere Reserves in India

were created under the 'Man & Biosphere' (MAB) Programme by UNESCO in 1971

to conserve in situ all forms of life, along with its support system, in its totality, so that it could serve as a referral system for monitoring and evaluating changes in natural ecosystems.
The first biosphere reserve of the world was established in 1979, since then the network of biosphere reserves has

Presently, there are 14 existing Biosphere Reserves in India

Date of Notification : Area (Sq.Kms) States




2.Nanda Devi


5,860.69 80.00 885.00 10,500.00 2,837.00 9,630.00 4,374.00 765.00 5,111.50 4,926.00 2,619.92 1,701.00 3,835..51

Karnataka, Kerala & T.N Uttaranchal Meghalaya Andaman & Nicobar Tamil Nadu Assam West Bengal Orissa Assam A.P. M.P. Sikkim Kerala M.P. and Chhattishgarh

3.Nokrek 01-01-1988 4.Great Nicobar 06-01-1989 Islands 5.Gulf of Mannar 18.02.1989 6.Manas 14-03-1989 7.Sunderbans 29-03-1989 8.Simlipal 22-06-1994 9.Dibru-Sikhowa 28-07-1997 10.Dehang-Debang 02-09-1998 11.Pachmarhi 03-03-1999 12.Khangchendzonga07-02-2000 13.Agasthyamalai 12-11-2001 14. Achanakamar - Amarkantak2005

Himalayan Biosphere Reserves Operational: 1. Nanda Devi, Uttaranchal 2. Manas, Assam 3.Dibru-Shikowa, Assam 4.Dehang-Debang, Arunachal Pradesh 5. Kangchendzonga, Sikkim Proposed: 6. Namdhapa,Arunachal Pradesh 7.Kaziranga, Assam 8.Cold Desert, J & K

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially Waterfowl Habitat ( Ramsar Convention,1971)

Held at Ramsar, Iran, the treaty provides for international collaboration on wetland conservation, including Mangroves and Coral reefs. The contracting parties have four obligations 1. 2. 3. 4. Incorporate the consideration of wetlands conservation within their national land-use planning Designate at least one wetland of international importance (Ramsar Sites) according to the specified criteria. Promote wetland conservation by creating nature reserves and Train staff in wetland wardeneing, research and management and consult other countries especially for species or areas . there are 116 countries participating and over a thousand Ramsar Sites.. Ramsar Provides small grants from a fund, international expertise and resources. Ramsar Convention Beaureu, rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196, Gland, Switzerland E mail:

Ramsar Convention (1971)

An inter-governmental treaty on wetlands for conservation and wise use of Natural resources as also conservation of Waterfowl habitats (Ramsar,Iran,1971).
There are 19 wetlands in India that have been identified as Ramsar Sites.

Ramsar Sites in India

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. Chilika Lake, Orissa Harike Wetland, Punjab Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan Loktak Lake, Manipur Sambar Lake, Rajasthan Wular Lake, Jammu and Kashmir Kanji Lake Punjab Ropar Lake, Punjab East Kolkata wetlands,WB Deepor Beel, Assam Astamudi Lake, Kerala Pong Dam Lake, H.P. Kolleru Lake, Andhra Pradesh
14. 15. Bhitakanika Mangroves, Orissa Tsomoriri, J & K

16.` Point Calimere WLS, TN 17. Sasthamkota Lake, Kerala

18. Bhoj Wet;land, MP 19. Vembanad-Kol Wetland, Kerala 20. Hokera Wetland, J. & K 21. Chandertal Wetland, H.P. 22. 23. 24. 25. Renuka Wetland, H.P. Rudrasagar Lake, Tripura Surinsar-Mansur Lakes J .& K Upper Ganga River (Brijghat to Narora Stretch)

More Wetlands to be Designated as Ramsar Sites: The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has identified more new wetlands and started the process of designation as Ramsar Sites in consultation with the World Wide Fund for NatureIndia (WWF-India). These are: 1.Lali Sanctuary (Arunachal Pradesh) 2. Kabar Tal (Bihar), 3.Pulicat Lake (Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh), and 4. Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Location of Ramsar Sites in India

Protected Area Network (PA Network)

The protection of wildlife has been a long tradition in Indian history. Wise use of natural resources was a pre-requisite for many hunter-gatherer societies, which dates back to at least 6000 BC. The adoption of a National Policy for Wildlife Conservation in 1970 and the enactment of the Wildlife (Protection) Act in 1972 lead to a significant growth in the protected areas network. To maintain rich biological diversity of the Indian Himalayan Region a Protected area network (PAN) has been established and biodiversity rich areas have been conserved as Sanctuaries, National Parks and Biosphere Reserves India has 95 national parks and 500 sanctuaries covering an area of 1.56 lakh sq. km with a plan to further expand this . The network was further strengthened by a number of national conservation projects, notably Project Tiger( initiated in April 1973)and the Crocodile Breeding and Management Project (Launched in April 1975 )

Protected Areas In India ( Statistics)

Presently , India has a Total number of 595 Wildlife Protected Areas: with an area of 155,978 km2 or 4.70% of the area, which constitutes

95 National Parks: with an area of 38,024.10 km2 or 1.14% of the area and 500 Wildlife sanctuaries: with an area of 118,913.45 km2 or 3.56% of the geographical area of India.
Conservation Reserves = 2 40.50 km2 with Area Covered =

Conservation Reserves
Sl.No Existing Year of Est.. Area (Km2) District/ State Location Dehra Dun, Uttarnchal Haridwar

1 2.

Asan Jhilmil Jheel

2005 2005

4.44 37.83

Proposed 3 Thiruppuddaima uthur 4 5

UpperLake of Bhoj Wetland Adjoinig Areas of Nalban WLS Cold Desert




Proposed Expansion of PA Network: National Parks to 163 with an area of 54789 km2 or 1.67% of the geographical area. Wildlife sanctuaries to 707 with an area of 133,975.11 km2 or 4.07% of the countries geographical area. After Expansion the total number of Protected Areas will be 870 with an area of 188,764.35 km2 or 5.74% of the countries geographical areas. With the proposed pattern of NPs and Total PAs The State of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh will be best covered while J & K will have the highest Total area of NPs( 5109.07 km2 or 2.29% ( WII , Rodgers,Pawar and Mathur,2002)

Tiger Reserves in India

State Assam Arunachal Pradesh Andhra Pradesh Bihar Chhattishgarh Jharkhand Karnataka Kerala Madhya Pradesh 1. Manas 2. Nameri 3. Namdapha 4. Pakhui 5. NagarjunsagarSrisailam 6. Valmiki 7. Indravati 8. Palamau 9. Bandipur Nagarhole (extension) 10. Bhadra 11. Periyar 12. Bandhavgarh 13. Bori-Satpura 14. Kanha 15. Panna 16. Pench Maharashtra 17. Melghat 18. Pench 19. Tadoba-Andhari Mizoram Orissa Rajasthan Tamil Nadu Uttar Pradesh Uttaranchal West Bengal 20. Dampa 21. Simlipal 22. Ranthambhore 23. Sariska 24. KalakadMundathurai 25. Dudhwa Katerniaghat 26. (extension) Corbett 27. Buxa 28. Sunderbans Tiger Reserve Year of Establishment 1973-74 1999-2000 1982-83 1999-2000 1982-83 1989-90 1982-83 1973-74 1973-74 1999-2000 1998-99 1978-79 1993-94 1999-2000 1973-74 1994-95 1992-93 1973-74 1992-93 1993-94 1994-95 1973-74 1973-74 1978-79 1988-89 1987-88 1999-2000 1973-74 1982-83 1973-74 Total Area Total Area (km2) 2840 344 1985 862 3568 840 2799 1026 866 643 492 777 1162 1486 1945 542 758 1677 257 620 500 2750 1334 866 800 811 551 1316 759 2585 37,761

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES)

A successful international conservation treaties in restricting international trade in in endangered species Main Functions:To maintain its three appendices of species , for each of which a different extent of trade is allowed. 1. 2. 3. 4. Species in App-I are forbidden for international trade except with special permission. App-II species have controlled international trade. App.III species lists species whose trade is forbidden by certain countries but are not listed in other two appendices CITES members have to create National Management Authority, which co-ordinates with CITES Secretariat in Switzerland

Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (1979) ( Bonn Convention or CMS, 1979)

Provides strict protection for a list of species and also provides a frame work for collaborative conservation agreements between the states through which each

species on second list migrate. Mainly applied to birds, but also has bats and dolphins. The Bonn convention also calls for research and surveys

Wildlife (Protection )Act 1972 Provides for protection ofWild animals , Animal articles , and - Plants. The WL (P) Act regulates sale, barter etc of notified wild plants and animal species. It also provides control over keeping of wild animals in captivity. The 1991 amendment covers the possession of notified plant species. The Act exercise control under the Schedules I-VI. Schedule I lists rare and endangered totally protected species. Schedule II includes game species for which licenses can be issued under special circumstances. Schedule III and Schedule IV comprises species of small games. Schedule V includes vermin, common crow, fruit bats, mice and rats. Amendment 1991: Bird trade was stopped in 1991 following an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Amendment 2006: The creation of a National Tiger Conservation Authority

Indias Zoogeography and Geological History

The whole of the Indian sub-continent is not rich only in biological or ecological diversity but because it lies at the confluence of African, European and Indo-Malayan realms, the biota, therefore, includes, African, European, and Eurasian and Mediterranean elements. T The very idea for the above concept also came from the theory of continental drift that the continents of south and north America, Africa, Peninsular India, Australia and Antarctica once united in one land mass (Gondwanaland) are now widely separated by southern Ocean and bear striking similarity of geological history and distribution of ancient and modern organisms. In early tertiary, the breakaway Gondwanaland in a northward drift first hit the Asian landmass at what is presently northeast India, served as the biogeographic gateway, the Assam Gate, for dispersal and migration of much of the fauna and flora. The Northeast Zone is richest of biological resources, and has affinities with Indo-Chinese and IndoMalayan regions in the east and southeast. From west came the Palaearctic and Ethiopian elements. Relatively young Himalayan mountain ranges opened up new southwards route of migration and acted as a two-way link between West Africa to South Asia. In peninsula there may be some cross over points between southern - Western Ghats and Eastern Hills.

Status of Total diversity of Indian Fauna

Taxa Species in India Species in World % in India

Protista 2577 Mollusca 5072 Arthropoda 68389 Ot. Invertebrates8329 Protochordata 119 Pisces 2546 Amphibia 240 Reptilia 460 Aves 1232 Mammalia 397 Total 91206

31259 66535 987949 87121 2106 21723 5150 5817 9026 4629 12,28,103

8.24 7.62 6.90 9.56 5.65 11.72 4.66 7.84 13.66 8.42 7.43

Source: UNEP-GBA (1995), MOEF (1997 and 1998), ZSI (1999), Kumar and Khanna, 2003 and Ramakrishna and Alfred, 2007

Endemic Species: India has many endemic vertebrate species. Areas rich
in endemism are northeast, the Western Ghats and the northwestern Himalayas. A small pocket of local endemism also occurs in the Eastern Ghats . The Gangetic plains are generally poor in endemics.

Endemic Species are those whose distribution is restricted to certain limited area. Table : Endemic Indian Fauna
Group No. of species %

Land Molluscs 878 Freshwater Molluscs 89 Insects 16,214 Amphibia 110 Reptilia 214 Aves 69 Mammalia 38
Source: MoEF (1999), Kumar and Khanna, 2003

23.00 52.63 46.92 0.56 9.74

Table : Marine Biodiversity of India

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. Name of the Group Protista Animalia Porifera Cnidaria Ctenophora Platyhelminthes Gastrotricha Kinorhyncha Annelida Mollusca Bryozoa Entoprocta Phoronida Brachiopoda3 Arthropoda Crustacea Pycnogonida Merostomata Sipunculida Echiura Tardigrada Chaetognatha Echinodermata Hemichordata Chordata Protochordata Pisces Amphibia (in esturines/mangroves) Aves Mammals Total Data for other phyla not available Source: ENVIS Newsletter, ZSI, 4(1&2), 1997 No. of species 750 500 790 10 350 88 99 440 3370 170 8 3 2430 16 2 38 33 33 5 30 12 116 1800 3 145 29 12456

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

Threatened Species

What are Threatened Species?

The Threatened species are those that are often impoverished of low fecundity, dependent on patchy or unpredictable resources, extremely variable in population density, persecuted or otherwise prone to extinction in human dominated landscapes. Red Data Book (RDB) was developed during 1960s and the species were placed under various threatened categories according to the severity of the threats faced by them and the estimated eminence of their extinction. World Conservation monitoring Centre (WCMC) in collaboration with IUCN Species Survival commission network of the specialist groups compiles the IUCN Red list every two years since 1986.

IUCN Red List Categories: Extinct (EX) - A taxon is Extinct when there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died. Extinct In The Wild (EW) - A taxon is Extinct in the wild when it is known only to survive in cultivation, in captivity or as a naturalized population (or populations) well outside the past range. Critically Endangered (CR) - A taxon is Critically Endangered when it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future, as defined by any of the criteria. Endangered (EN) - A taxon is endangered when it is not Critically Endangered but is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as defined by any of the criteria.

Vulnerable (VU) - A taxon is Vulnerable when it is not Critically Endangered or Endangered but is facing a high risk of extinction in the wild in the medium-term future, as defined by any of the criteria. Lower Risk (LR) - A taxon is Lower Risk when it has been evaluated, does not qualify for any of the threatened categories Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable or Data Deficient (LR/nt- near threatened, Lr/lc- least concerned, LR/cd-conservation dependent). Near Threatened (NT): A taxon is Near Threatened when it has been evaluated against the criteria but does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable now, but is close to qualifying for, or is likely to qualify for, a threatened category in the near future. Least Concern (LC) A taxon is Least Concern when it has been evaluated against the criteria and does not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

Data Deficient (DD) A taxon is Data Deficient when there is inadequate information to make a direct, or indirect, assessment of its risk of extinction based on its distribution and/or population status. Not Evaluated (NE) A taxon is Not Evaluated when it is has not yet been assessed against the criteria.

Endemics (E) Species restricted to a particular geographical area or ecosystem.

Threatened Species

Kumar and Khanna (2006) in their overview of the threatened Indian fauna have listed 648 species of animals categorized as Threatened by IUCN (2002); it is approximately 8.91 % of the world's total (7266 species) number of threatened faunal species .


Threatened Fauna from India by Taxonomic Groups

No. of Species

Mammalia 213 32.87 Aves 149 22.99 Reptilia 33 5.09 Amphibia 03 0.81 Pisces 75 11.57 Mollusca 05 0.77 Crustacea 12 1.85 Other Invertebrates 13 2.00 Total 648 Source: Kumar and Khanna (2006), Globally Threatened Indian Fauna.

Analysis of threat Categories

: On analysis of the threat categories by groups (at global level), it is found that out of 648 species of threatened Indian fauna,


Cr.En. En. Vu. LRntNT

44 109 195 63 91

LR cd


Faunal Diversity in India

India has a total of 89,451 animal species accounting for 7.31% of the faunal species in the world (MoEF 1997) and the flora accounts for 10.78% of the global total. The endemism of Indian biodiversity is high about 33% of the country's recorded flora are endemic to the country and are concentrated mainly in the North-East, Western Ghats, North-West Himalayas and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. However, this rich biodiversity of India is under severe threat owing to habitat destruction, degradation, fragmentation and over-exploitation of resources.

Some Critically Threatened Indian Birds

Himalayan Quail

Long-billed Vulture

Slender-billed Vulture

Forest Owlet

White-rumped Vulture Jerdons Courser

Some Critically Threatened Indian Mammals

Fruit Bat Wroughtons Free tailed Bat

Pygmy Hog

Malabar Civet

The IUCN Threatened Category thresholds at a glance

A. RAPID POPULATION Reduction:Decline >80% in 10 years or 3 generations (CR): >50% in 10 years or 3 generations (EN); Decline >20% in 10 years or 3 generations (VU) Decline in Extent of occurrence, Area of occupancy, and or quality of habitat(A1c) SMALL RANGE AND FRAGMENTED, DECLINING OR FLUCTUATING: Extent of Occurrence estimated<100 km 2 (CR); <5,000 km 2 (EN); <20,000 km 2 (VU) Decline in Extent of occurrence, Area of occupancy, and or quality of habitat(B2a,B2b,B 2c) SMALL POPULATION AND DECLINING: Population <250 mature individuals (CR); <2,500 mature individuals (EN); <10,000 mature individuals (VU) None



D1. VERY SMALL POPULATION : Population <50 mature individuals (CR);Population <250 mature individuals (EN);Population <1,000 mature individuals (VU) None D2. VERY SMALL RANGE: Typically, Area of Occupancy <100 km 2 or <5 locations None

Invasive species
are those which are non native or alien to the particular area and whose introduction, deliberate or accidental may be detrimental to the health of the natural fauna or flora.
The impact of invasive species is second only to that of human population growth and associated activities as a cause of loss of biodiversity throughout the world. The invasions of non-native plants, animals and microbes are thought to be responsible for the decline of native species now listed as endangered or threatened.

Major Threats to Biodiversity: 1. Habitat Loss and Degradation: 2.Exploitation:Exploitation, including hunting, collecting, fisheries and fisheries by catch, and the impacts of trade in species and species parts, constitutes a major threat. 3.Alien Invasive Species: 4.Disturbance, persecution and uprooting, including deliberate eradication of species considered to be pests 5. Incidental take, particularly the drowning of aquatic reptiles and mammals in fishing nets

6. Disease, both exotic and endemic, exacerbated by the

presence of large number of domestic livestock or introduced plant species 7. Limited distribution, which may compound the effects of other factors. In the majority of cases individual species are faced by several of these threats operating simultaneously, and it is often difficult or impossible to identify with confidence the primary cause of decline. However, the major category of threat, which affects 76% of species, is habitat loss and modification frequently due to cultivation and settlements.

Dr.Vinod Khanna Zoological Survey of India Dehra Dun