Each year, 22 May is celebrated as World Biodiversity Day. The word ‘biodiversity’ defines the variety of life on earth, but in its broader sense it is the reason life exists because in the living planet nothing can exist on its own. It is a term used to describe the different plants, animals, marine life, microorganisms, insects, habitats, ecosystem etc. that makes our planet so unique and so fascinating.
India is one of the mega-diverse nations in the world. It is called so because the country’s gamuts of life forms are wonderfully different wherever you might be. From extreme cold to extreme heat, coastal areas to rain forests, tropical jungles to mangrove belts, the extraordinary weather and climatic conditions have created homes and habitats for more than 50, 000 species of plants and 40,000 species of animals.
Here are some fascinating facts about biodiversity of India.
India’s Biodiversity at a glance
- India is just 2 percent of the world land mass but 8 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found in the country.
- 16 types of forests are found in India including the evergreen tropical rain forests, dry alpine scrub forests, semi evergreen rain forests, deciduous monsoon forests, thorn forests, subtropical pine forests and more.
- India has some of the wettest, driest, hottest and coldest regions in the world.
- Indian coastline is 7516 km long.
- India is one of the 18 mega-diverse nations of the world.
- The two biodiversity hotspots present in India are the Western Ghats and the East Himalayan region.
- 11 percent of plant biodiversity in the world is found in India.
- There are 15,000 species of flowering plants in India.
- 2546 species of fishes are found in India.
- India has 198 species of Amphibians.
- 423 species of mammals are present in India.
- In the country there are 1331 species of birds.
- 408 species of reptiles inhabit India.
- There are 50,000 varieties of rice alone found in the country, making it the biggest reservoir of rice on earth.
- Among plants 33 percent of the species are endemic to India, which means they are found nowhere else in the world.
- 44 species of mammals are endemic to India like the Nilgiri Tahr, Wild Ass, and the Lion tailed Macaque.
- 55 species of birds are endemic to India found mostly in Western Ghats, eastern India along the mountain chains and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
- There are around 187 endemic reptiles, and 110 endemic amphibian species in India.
Life under Threat
- 929 species of animals in India are threatened today.
- Only 1 percent of India’s vast coastline is protected. The rest is vanishing thanks to unplanned development work, fishery and projects like power plants and ports.
- Four animals – the cheetah, Lesser Indian Rhinoceros, Pink-headed duck, and the Himalayan Mountain Quail – have become extinct in the last century.
- Every 20 minutes a species is becoming extinct in the world, the next maybe from India.
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