An Overview

India is endowed with a diverse flora and fauna and contains three biodiversity hotspots including the Western Ghats, Himalaya and Indo-Burma hotspots. 92 national parks and 492 wildlife sanctuaries, covering an area of approx. 155,000 sq km², provide a sanctum for many threatened species, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, one-horned rhino and elephant. The total protected area covers less than 5 per cent of India's total land mass.

The conservation efforts to save India's national animal, the tiger, are a mixed bag. On a positive note, the latest tiger census shows signs of hope for the tiger. The census figures are also significantly more precise and reliable due to the adaption of modern tracking methods incl. camera traps compared to the less reliable pugmark tracking method in use earlier. As per the National Tiger Census, the wild tiger population in India increased to 2 967 in 2018 (2 226 recorded in 2014). The natural overall habitats of tigers are nevertheless diminishing and poaching of tigers, rhinos and other threatened animal species is rampant. Some national parks and sanctuaries such as Corbett and Bandhavgarh have contained strong tiger populations whereas in some others such as Sariska, the charismatic tiger ceased to roam although more recently a few relocations have nurtured a small population. Dense forests, that provide a natural habitat for wildlife, are becoming a rarity in India which according to estimates cover only less than two percent of the total land area. The gradual destruction of jungles and prime forests has created isolated pockets of wildlife habitat and inhibited the free and natural movement of tigers and elephants, to name a few.

Image above: An artificial hatching ground for the Olive Ridley sea turtle at Sajnekhali Island, Sundarbans

Indian peacock

Image above: Indian Peacock, the national bird of India.

Species Diversity in India >>
Maps of Biogeographic Zones in India >>

Selected Endangered and Critically Endangered Species

Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris)
Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)
Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus)
Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia)
Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes)
Asian Elephant (Elphas maximus)
Indian Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)
Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus)
Ganges River Dolhpin (Platanista gangetica gangetica)
Sarus Crane (Grus antigone antigone)
Oriental White-backed Vulture (Gyps bengalensis)
The Malabar Large Spotted CivetViverra civettina
Namdapha Flying Squirrel (Biswamayopterus biswasi)
King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah)
Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus)
Malabar Banded Peacock (butterfly) (Papilio buddha)
Pygmy Hog (Sus salvanius)
Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus)


Gharials are a crocodile species that once thrived in many areas of South Asia but at present habit only a few sanctuaries in India and Nepal. Gharials have joined the long list of critically endangered species. Inland water pollution is threateninmg not just the survival of the gharial but so many other riverine species including the Ganges River Dolphin (susu). Besides pollution, dams and fishing also a threat to all animal life found in rivers.

Birds in the Backwaters of Kerala