Indian Natural History

Indian Natural History

India is remarkable for its diverse assemblage of plant and animal life. The Indian elephant, tiger, python and peacock, dwelling in the woodlands and forests of teak and sal or the ornamented pheasants of the Himalayan forests of rhododendron and fir are symbolic of this varied biota. One reason for India's riches of plants and animals is its diversity of physical environments, a product of the region's history, which has witnessed movements of landmasses, spectacular mountain uplifts, and periods of alternating cold and hot, wet and dry. This has brought about biogeographic shifts,major faunal invasions, migrations and extinctions. Many of these forces continue to alter the physical environment of India.

Present-day India comprises three geographic segments; the Peninsular Region, the Indo Gangetic Plain, the Himalayas. The Peninsula is generally of low relief except where the Satpuras, and Eastern and Western Ghats rise above the plain. To the north of this stable paleozoic mass lies the fertile and highly-populous Indo-Gangetic Plain. This separates the Peninsula from the massive wall of the Himalayas, the earth's youngest and highest mountain system. The Himalayan region extends from the upper Indus eastward to the Brahmaputra, and separates the main body of India from the northern Asian landmass and its cold temperate weather systems. Thus, while India extends from 8 to 32 N Lat., overall its climate is warmer than might be expected, because of the high protective barrier on its northern flank, and because of its exposure to the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea to the east and west. The water laden winds that seasonally blow off these two southern seas produce the monsoon rains that are such a prominent feature of India's climate.

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