India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian, 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species. Many ecoregions, such as the shola forests, also exhibit extremely high rates of endemism; overall, 33% of Indian plant species are endemic.India's forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and Northeast India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Important Indian trees include the medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies. The pipal fig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded the Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment.
Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, to which India originally belonged. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards, and collision with, the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic change 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya. As a result, among Indian species, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and the brown and carmine Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal tiger, and the Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered a near-extinction from ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.
In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 500 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 15 biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 25 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.
The varied and rich wildlife of India has had a profound impact on the region's popular culture. The common name for wilderness in India is Jungle, which was adopted by the British colonialists to the English language. The word has been also made famous in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. India's wildlife has been the subject of numerous other tales and fables such as the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales.
India is home to several well known large mammals including the Asian Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Asiatic Lion, Leopard, Sloth Bear and Indian Rhinoceros, often engrained culturally and religiously often being associated with deities. Other well known large Indian mammals include ungulates such as the rare Wild Asian Water buffalo, common Domestic Asian Water buffalo, Nilgai, Gaur and several species of deer and antelope. Some members of the dog family such as the Indian Wolf, Bengal Fox, Golden Jackal and the world's rarest monkey, the golden langur typifies the precarious survival of much of India's megafauna. The need for conservation of wildlife in India is often questioned because of the apparently incorrect priority in the face of direct poverty of the people. However Article 48 of the Constitution of India specifies that, "The state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country" and Article 51-A states that "it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.
Large and charismatic mammals are important for wildlife tourism in India and several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries cater to these needs. Project Tiger started in 1972 is a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitats. At the turn of the 20th century, one estimate of the tiger population in India placed the figure at 40,000, yet an Indian tiger census conducted in 2008 revealed the existence of only 1411 tigers. The passing of the Forest Rights Act by the Indian government in 2008 has been the final nail in the coffin and has pushed the Indian tiger on the verge of extinction.Various pressures in the later part of the 20th century led to the progressive decline of wilderness resulting in the disturbance of viable tiger habitats. At the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) General Assembly meeting in Delhi in 1969, serious concern was voiced about the threat to several species of wildlife and the shrinkage of wilderness in the India. In 1970, a national ban on tiger hunting was imposed and in 1972 the Wildlife Protection Act came into force. The framework was then set up to formulate a project for tiger conservation with an ecological approach.
Launched on April 1, 1973, Project Tiger has become one of the most successful conservation ventures in modern history. The project aims at tiger conservation in specially constituted 'tiger reserves' which are representative of various bio-geographical regions falling within India. It strives to maintain a viable tiger population in their natural environment. Today, there are 39 Project Tiger wildlife reserves in India covering an area more than of 37,761 km².
Project Elephant, though less known, started in 1992 and works for elephant protection in India. Most of India's rhinos today survive in the Kaziranga National Park.
National symbols of India
* National animal: Royal Bengal Tiger
* National Heritage animal of India: Indian Elephant
* National aquatic animal: Ganges River Dolphin
* National bird: Peacock
* National flower: Lotus
* National tree: Banyan
National Parks in India
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh is truly one of India's magnificent wildernesses with a relative abundance of tigers and an imposing Fort atop a plateau which dates back to 300 AD.
Nagarahole & Bandipur National ParksStraddling the states of Kerala & Karnataka Nagarahole & Bandipur National Parks cover some of the best-preserved tracts of forests in South India.
Corbett National ParkThe word "Corbett" instantly conjures up the vision of a lone Englishman, with a gun in his hands, hot on the trail of a savage predator.
Chitwan National ParkA jungle safari through one of these pristine jungles, the Royal Chitwan National Park is an enthralling experience.
Kanha National Park & Tiger ReserveRomanticised by Kipling in his book, Kanha National Park is among the most spectacular, protected wildlife reserves of the world.
Kaziranga National ParkSandwiched between the mighty Brahmaputra and the Mikir Hills and only five hours drive from Guwahati, capital of Assam, lies the "land of a thousand rhinos".
Markha ValleyThe Himalayas have for long kindled the spirit of adventure in man leading him to explore some of the most treacherous terrain on Earth.
Periyar Wildlife SanctuaryIn 1895, the Periyar river which runs through some of the most breath-taking scenery in Western Ghats, in "God's own country" Kerala, was dammed inundating more than 50 km2 of prime woodland.
Panna National ParkLocated in the Vindhyan tracts of Madhya Pradesh this 540km2 National Park holds some of the most dramatic forest patches and ruggedly breathtaking scenery of peninsular India.
Ranthambhore National ParkThe 400km Ranthambhore National Park famous for its tigers was the hunting ground of the Kachhwaha rulers of Jaipur and has a rich plant and animal life.
Sariska Wildlife SanctuaryIn the Aravalli range, which cuts across Rajasthan, a few pockets of forest still survive; one such area is the Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary & Tiger Reserve.
Indian Wild Life Resorts:
Kanha Wildlife Resorts
Bandhavgarh Wildlife Resorts
Ranthambore Wildlife Resorts
Bharatpur Wildlife Resorts
Pench Wildlife Resorts
Corbett Wildlife Resorts
Bird Sanctuary in India:
Rollapadu Bird Sanctuary Andhra Pradesh
Kadalundi Bird Sanctuary
Thattekad Bird Sanctuary
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary,Tamil Nadu
Kunthakulam Bird Sanctuary
Khijadia Bird Sanctuary
Porbandar Bird Sanctury Porbandar, Gujarat
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, North Goa
Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, Kerala
Chilika Lake Bird Sanctuary, Orissa
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary ,Gujarat
Nawab Ganj Bird Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh
Jayakwadi Bird Sanctuary Aurangabad
Karnala Bird Sanctuary Raigad ,Maharashtra
Kolleru Bird Sanctuary ,Andhra Pradesh
Manjira Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh
Nandurmadhmeshwar Bird Sanctury Nashik, Maharashtra
Nelapatta Bird Sanctuary Andhra Pradesh