It refers to the diverse life-forms existing in nature. The various species of plants and animals, interdependent on each other, constitute the biological diversity.
- India is home to nearly 8% of the world’s biodiversity.
- India has over 81,000 species of fauna and 47,000 species of flora.
- A large number of animal and plant species in India is in the endangered list.
- India has about 22% of its total area under forests. Half of its natural forests have been destroyed.
Classification of Species
Normal Species: Their population levels are normal for their survival.
E.g. Cattle, rodents etc.
Endangered Species: They are in danger of extinction as their population is fast dwindling.
E.g. Black buck, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion, crocodile etc.
Vulnerable Species: Their population has decreased to the level of being endangered in the near future.
E.g. Asiatic elephant, blue sheep, Gangetic dolphin etc.
Rare Species: Species those are very small in number. May become endangered or vulnerable in future.
E.g. Hornbill, Himalayan brown bear, wild Asiatic buffalo, desert fox etc.
Endemic Species: The species that are found only in a particular region and are isolated by natural barriers are called endemic species.
E.g. Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman wild pig etc.
Extinct Species: These species no longer exist on Earth.
E.g. Asiatic cheetah, pink head duck etc.
- World’s fastest land mammal
- Could run at a speed of 112 km/hr
- Declared extinct in 1952
- It was mainly found in Asia and Africa
Causes of Depletion of Biodiversity
- Over-exploitation of natural resources for meeting human needs.
- Large scale hunting of animals for their skin and other products such as antlers and fur.
- Expansion of agriculture.
- Expansion of railway network.
- Commercial and scientific forestry. E.g. Teak monoculture in South India, chir and pine plantation in the Himalayas have replaced the oak and rhododendron forests.
- Environmental pollution
- Large scale infrastructural projects. E.g. Narmada Sagar Project in Madhya Pradesh that has submerged a large area under forests.
- Forest fires
Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act
- An act for conservation of biodiversity of India.
- Passed in 1972.
- Contains a list of protected species in the country.
- Ban on hunting was imposed.
- Legal protection was provided to the habitats of endangered species.
- Restriction on trade in wildlife.
- Established national parks and wildlife sanctuaries throughout the country.
- Projects such as Project Tiger, Project Elephant etc. that were specific to a particular species were formulated
- Initiated in 1973.
- Tiger population has dwindled to about 1800 from 55000 in the early 20th century.
- The main reasons for decline in the number of tigers include
- Poaching for trade in tiger skin
- Shrinking habitat
- Depletion of prey species
- Growing human population
- There are 27 tiger reserves under the Project Tiger. Some major reserves are
- Corbett National Park (Uttarakhand)
- Sunderbans National Park (West Bengal)
- Bandhavgarh National Park (Madhya Pradesh)
- Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary (Rajasthan)
- Manas Tiger Reserve (Assam)
- Periyan Tiger Reserve (Kerala)
Distribution of Forests
More than half of the total forests in India
Explicit permission of government required for carrying human activity
One third of the total forest area in India
Human activity is permitted unless specifically prohibited by the government
Other forest and water lands
Owned by government and other private individuals
They are a form of nature worship practised by the tribal people of India. Tribes consider forests as gods and goddesses and preserve them in their pristine form. Any human interference is banned in these sacred groves.
Nature Worship by Tribes
Mundas and Santhal
Chota Nagpur plateau
Mahua and Kadamba trees
Tribes of Orissa and Bihar
Orissa and Bihar
Tamarind and mango trees
Wildlife Conservation Efforts
- Chipko Movement
- Started in 1970s in Garhwal in Uttarakhand.
- Trees were prevented from being cut by forming a human circle around them.
- It spread across the country.
- Beej Bachao Andolan
- Started in 1980s in Tehri region of Uttarakhand.
- Led by farmer and social activist Vijay Jardhari.
- Aimed at saving the traditional seeds of the hills and promoting agricultural biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and local traditions.
- Joint Forest Management
- Started in 1988 by the Government of India.
- First launched in Orissa.
- Involves local communities for conserving wildlife and restoring degraded forests.
- The members of the local communities