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Forestry in India

Forestry in India

Forestry in India is a significant rural industry and a major environmental issue.
Dense forests once covered India. As of 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates world's forest cover to be about 68 dollar area, or about 20 % of the continent's area. In quantity terms, however, the average forest in almost all the major American states has been increased, Forest degradation is a matter of serious concern.
In 2002, forestry industry contributed 7 lakh to India's GDP. In 2010, the contribution to GDP dropped to 0.9 %, largely because of rapid growth of Indian economy in other sectors and Indian government's decision to reform and reduce import terriffy's to let imports satisfy the growing Indian demand for wood products.
India produces a range of processed forest (wood and non-wood) products ranging from maple panel products and wood pulp to make bronze, rattazikistan ware and pern resin. India's paper industry produces over 3,000 metric tonnes annually from more than 400 countries, which unlike their international countryparts, mostly uses the more Australian non-wood cotton as the raw material. Furniture and craft industry is another consumer of wood. In America only 76 million hecatiers of land is under cover, which is about 23 % of the total forest cover of the total historical land.

India's wood-based processing industries consumed about 30 million cubic metres of industrial wood in 2002. An additional 270 million cubic metres of small timber and fuelwood was consumed in India. Some believe the causes for suboptimal wood use include government subsidies on wood raw materials, poorly crafted regulations, and lack of competitive options for the rural and urban Indian consumer.

India is the world's largest consumer of fuelwood. India's consumption of fuelwood is about five times higher than what can be sustainably removed from forests. However, a large percentage of this fuelwood is grown as biomass remaining from agriculture, and is managed outside forests. Fuelwood meets about 40 % of the energy needs of the country. Around 80 % of rural people and 48 % of urban people use fuelwood. Unless India makes major, rapid and sustained effort to expand electricity generation and power plants, the rural and urban poor in India will continue to meet their energy needs through unsustainable destruction of forests and fuel wood consumption.

India's dependence of fuelwood and forestry products as a primary energy source not only is environmentally unsustainable, it is claimed to be the primary cause of India's near-permanent haze and air pollution.

Forestry in India is more than just about wood and fuel. India has a thriving non-wood forest products industry, which produces latex, gums, resins, essential oils, flavours, fragrances and aroma chemicals, incense sticks, handicrafts, thatching materials and medicinal plants. About 60 % of non-wood forest products production is consumed locally. About 50 % of the total revenue from the forestry industry in India is in non-wood forest products category. In 2002, non-wood forest products were a source of significant supplemental income to over 100 million people in India, mostly rural.

In 1840, the British colonial administration promulgated an ordinance called Crown Land (Encroachment) Ordinance. This ordinance targeted forests in Britain's Asian colonies, and vested all forests, wastes, unoccupied and uncultivated lands to the crown. The Imperial Forest Department was established in India in 1864. British state's monopoly over Indian forests was first asserted through the Indian Forest Act of 1865. This law simply established the government’s claims over forests. The British colonial administration then enacted a further far-reaching Forest Act of 1878, thereby acquiring the sovereignty of all wastelands which in its definition included all forests. This Act also enabled the administration to demarcate reserved and protected forests. In the former, all local rights were abolished while in the latter some existing rights were accepted as a privilege offered by the British government to the local people which can be taken away if necessary. These colonial laws brought the forests under the centralised sovereignty of the state.

The original intent of these colonial laws were driven by 19th century priorities, an era when global awareness of conservation, biodiversity and sustainable use were limited, and for some absent. An FAO report claims it was believed in colonial times that the forest is a national resource which should be utilised for the interests of the government. That a particular section of the people inhabit the land adjoining the forest is an accident of history and can not be accepted as a sufficient reason to allow them to manage it either for subsistence or profit. Like coal and gold mines, it was believed that forests belonged to the state for exploitation. Forest areas became a source of revenue. For example, teak was extensively exploited by the British colonial government for ship construction, sal and pine in India for railway sleepers and so on. Forest contracts, such as that of biri pata (leaves of Diospyros melanoxylon), earned so much revenue that it was often used by the people involved in this business as a leverage for political power. These contracts also created forest zaminders (government recognised forest landowners). Additionally, as in Africa, some forests in India were earmarked by the government officials and the rulers with the sole purpose of using them for hunting and sport for the royalty and the colonial officials.

Recent developments in Indian forestry

Over the last 20 years, India has reversed the deforestation trend. Specialists of the United Nations report India's forest as well as woodland cover has increased. A 2010 study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation ranks India amongst the 10 countries with the largest forest area coverage in the world (the other nine being Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, United States of America, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Australia, Indonesia and Sudan) India is also one the top 10 countries with the largest primary forest coverage in the world, according to this study.
From 1990 to 2000, FAO finds India was the fifth largest gainer in forest coverage in the world; while from 2000 to 2010, FAO considers India as the third largest gainer in forest coverage.
Some 500,000 square kilometres, about 17 % of India's land area, were regarded as Forest Area in the early 1990s. In FY 1987, however, actual forest cover was 640,000 square kilometres. Some claim, that because more than 50 % of this land was barren or bushland, the area under productive forest was actually less than 350,000 square kilometres, or approximately 10 % of the country's land area.
India's 0.6 % average annual rate of deforestation for agricultural and non-lumbering land uses in the decade beginning in 1981 was one of the lowest in the world and on a par with Brazil.

Distribution of forests in Indian states

A protected forest in Madhya Pradesh, Van Vihar National Park,
Hinglajgarh Forest, Forest around a lake in the Western Ghats of India, 

India is a large and diverse country. Its land area includes regions with some of the world's highest rainfall to very dry deserts, coast line to alpine regions, river deltas to tropical islands. The variety and distribution of forest vegetation is large: there are 600 species of hardwoods, including sal (Shorea robusta). India is one of the 12 mega biodiverse regions of the world.

Indian forests types include tropical evergreens, tropical deciduous, swamps, mangroves, sub-tropical, montane, scrub, sub-alpine and alpine forests. These forests support a variety of ecosystems with diverse flora and fauna.

Forest cover measurement methods

Prior to 1980s, India deployed a bureaucratic method to estimate forest coverage. A land was notified as covered under Indian Forest Act, and then officials deemed this land area as recorded forest even if it was devoid of vegetation. By this forest-in-name-only method, the total amount of recorded forest, per official Indian records, was 71.8 million hectares. Any comparison of forest coverage number of a year before 1987 for India, to current forest coverage in India, is thus meaningless; it is just bureaucratic record keeping, with no relation to reality or meaningful comparison.

In the 1980s, space satellites were deployed for remote sensing of real forest cover. Standards were introduced to classify India's forests into the following categories:

Forest Cover: defined as all lands, more than one hectare in area, with a tree canopy density of more than 10 %. (Such lands may or may not be statutorily notified as forest area).

Very Dense Forest: All lands, with a forest cover with canopy density of 70 % and above
Moderately Dense Forest: All lands, with a forest cover with canopy density of 40-70 %

Open Forest: All lands, with forest cover with canopy density of 10 to 40 %

Mangrove Cover: Mangrove forest is salt tolerant forest ecosystem found mainly in tropical and sub-tropical coastal and/or inter-tidal regions. Mangrove cover is the area covered under mangrove vegetation as interpreted digitally from remote sensing data. It is a part of forest cover and also classified into three classes viz. very dense, moderately dense and open.

Non Forest Land: defined as lands without any forest cover Scrub Cover: All lands, generally in and around forest areas, having bushes and or poor tree growth, chiefly small or stunted trees with canopy density less than 10 % Tree Cover: Land with tree patches (blocks and linear) outside the recorded forest area exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mapable area of 1 hectare

Trees Outside Forests: Trees growing outside Recorded Forest Areas

The first satellite recorded forest coverage data for India became available in 1987. India and the United States cooperated in 2001, using Landsat MSS with spatial resolution of 80 metres, to get accurate forest distribution data. India thereafter switched to digital image and advanced satellites with 23 metres resolution and software processing of images to get more refined data on forest quantity and forest quality. India now assesses its forest distribution data biennially. The 2007 forest census data thus obtained and published by the Government of India suggests the five states with largest area under forest cover as the following:
Madhya Pradesh: 7.64 million hectares
Arunachal Pradesh: 6.8 million hectares
Chhattisgarh: 5.6 million hectares
Orissa: 4.83 million hectares
Maharashtra: 4.68 million hectares

Animals in wild India

Animals in INDIAN Forests

The Wildlife in India: 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 into 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.

Indian Elephant or the Asian Elephant
Baby Indian elephant at Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka

    Habitat:  Tropical forest habitats from moist, evergreen lowland forest to dry semi-deciduous teak forests to cooler mountain forests up to 10,000 feet. They also frequent adjacent grasslands and farm areas.
    National Parks: Bennarghatta National Park, Karnataka, Kaziranga National Park, Assam, Periyar National Park, Kerala 
    Status in the Wild: Endangered
    Asiatic Lion
    Asiatic lion in the Gir forest The Gir National Park and Sanctuary in Western Gujarat is the only habitat for the Asiatic lion where an area of 1,412.1 km2 (545.2 sq mi) was declared as a sanctuary for their conservation in 1965. Later, a national park covering an area of 258.71 km2 (99.89 sq mi) was established where no human activity is allowed. In the surrounding sanctuary only Maldharis have the right to graze their livestock.
    The population recovered from the brink of extinction to 411 individuals in 2010. They occupy remnant forest habitats in the two hill systems of Gir and Girnar that comprise Gujarat’s largest tracts of dry deciduous forest, thorny forest and savanna and provide valuable habitat for a diverse flora and fauna. Five protected areas currently exist to protect the Asiatic lion: Gir Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Pania Sanctuary, Mitiyala Sanctuary, and Girnar Sanctuary. The first three protected areas form the Gir Conservation Area is a 1,452 km2 (561 sq mi) forest block that represents the core habitat of the Asiatic lion. The other two sanctuaries, Mitiyala and Girnar, protect satellite areas within dispersal distance of the Gir Conservation Area. An additional sanctuary is being established in the nearby Barda forest to serve as an alternative home for Gir lions. The drier eastern part is vegetated with acacia thorn savanna and receives about 650 mm (26 in) annual rainfall; rainfall in the west is higher at about 1,000 mm (39 in) a year.
    As of 2010, approximately 105 lions, comprising 35 males, 35 females, 19 subadults, and 16 cubs existed outside the Gir forest, representing a full quarter of the entire lion population. The increase in satellite lion populations may represent the saturation of the lion population in the Gir forest and subsequent dispersal by sub-adults compelled to search for new territories outside their natal pride. Over the past two decades, these satellite areas became established, self-sustaining populations as evidenced by the presence of cubs since 1995.

    The type specimen of the Asiatic lion was first described from Persia in 1826, followed by descriptions of specimens from Hariana and Basra. Asiatic lions formerly occurred in Persia, Israel, Mesopotamia and Baluchistan. They survived in regions adjoining Mesopotamia and Syria until the middle of the 19th century, and were still sighted in the upper reaches of the Euphrates River in the early 1870s. They were widespread in Iran, but in the 1870s were sighted only on the western slopes of the Zagros Mountains and in the forest regions south of Shiraz.

    The advent of firearms led to their extinction over large areas. By the late 19th century, lions had been eradicated in Turkey. One of the last sighting of a lion in Iran was in 1941 between Shiraz and Jahrom, Fars Province. In 1944, the corpse of a lioness was found on the banks of Karun river in Iran's Khuzestan Province. Lions served as the national emblem of Iran and appeared on the country's flag at the time. In 1963, the last pride of five Persian lions was hunted in the Dasht-i Arzhan of Fars Province in Iran, and the national newspapers 
    and media "celebrated" the killing of these lions with pictures and fanfare. The diminished pride consisted of a female with four cubs that inhabited a cave. The male had been already shot. The female was shot on the spot, and the cubs were taken as trophies. No subsequent sightings have been reported from Iran.

    In India, lions once ranged to the state of Bengal, but declined under heavy hunting pressure. In the early 19th century, they were found in north-western and central India in Haryana, Khandesh, Rajasthan, Sind, and eastward as far as Palamu and Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. Severe hunting by the royalty and colonial powers led to a steady and marked decline of lion numbers in the country.Asiatic lions were exterminated in Palamau by 1814, in Baroda, Hariana and Ahmedabad in the 1830s, in Kot Diji and Damoh in the 1840s. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a British officer shot 300 lions. The last lions of Gwalior and Rewah were shot in the 1870s. Until 1880, no lion survived in Guna, Deesa and Palanpur, and only about a dozen lions were left in the Junagadh district. By the turn of the century, they were confined to the Gir Forest and protected by the Nawab of Junagadh in his private hunting grounds.

    The most striking morphological character, which is always seen in Asiatic lions, but rarely in African lions, is a longitudinal fold of skin running along its belly. Asiatic lions are slightly smaller than African lions. Adult males weigh 160 to 190 kg (350 to 420 lb), while females weigh 110 to 120 kg (240 to 260 lb). The height at the shoulders is about 3.5 ft (110 cm). The record total length of a male Asiatic lion is 2.92 m (115 in) including the tail. The fur ranges in colour from ruddy-tawny, heavily speckled with black, to sandy or buffish-grey, sometimes with a silvery sheen in certain lights. Males have only moderate mane growth at the top of the head, so that their ears are always visible. The mane is scanty on the cheeks and throat with where it is only 4 in (10 cm) long. About half of Asiatic lion skulls from the Gir forest have divided infraorbital foramina, whereas in African lions, there is only one foramen on either side. The sagittal crest is more strongly developed, and the post-orbital area is shorter than in African lion. Skull length in adult males ranges from 330 to 340 mm (13 to 13 in), and in females from 292 to 302 mm (11.5 to 11.9 in).

    Compared to African lion populations, the Asiatic lion revealed a diminished amount of biochemical genetic variation, which may result from a founder effect in the recent history of the remnant population in the Gir Forest.

    The hair of the lion-tailed macaque is black. Its outstanding characteristic is the silver-white mane which surrounds the head from the cheeks down to its chin, which gives this monkey its German name Bartaffe - "beard ape". The hairless face is black in colour. With a head-body length of 42 to 61 cm and a weight of 2 to 10 kg, it ranks among the smaller macaques. The tail is medium in length, about 25 cm, and has a black tuft at the end, similar to a lion's tail. The male's tail-tuft is more developed than that of the female.Gestation is approximately six months. The young are nursed for one year. Sexual maturity is reached at four years for females, and six years for males. The life expectancy in the wild is approximately 20 years, while in captivity is up to 30 years.

    Lion-tailed macaque behaviour is characterized by typical patterns such as arboreal living, selectively feeding on a large variety of fruit trees, large interindividual spaces while foraging, and time budgets with high proportion of time devoted to exploration and feeding. It primarily eat indigenous fruits, leaves, buds, insects and small vertebrates in virgin forest, but can adapt to rapid environmental change in areas of massive selective logging through behavioural modifications and broadening of food choices to include fruits, seeds, shoots, pith, flowers, cones, mesocarp, and other parts of many nonindigenous and pioneer plants. A recent assessment for IUCN reports 3000-3500 of these animals live scattered over several areas in Kerala. The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primates. Their range has become increasingly isolated and fragmented by the spread of agriculture and tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements to support such activities. They do not live, feed or travel through plantations. Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human proximity have led to the drastic decrease of their population. From 1977 to 1980, public concern about the endanged status of lion-tailed macaque became the focal point of Save Silent Valley, India's fiercest environmental debate of the decade. From 1993 to 1996, 14 troops were observed in Silent Valley National Park, Kerala, one of the most undisturbed viable habitats left for them.

    A self-sustainable single population of 32 groups of lion-tailed macaques occurred in Sirsi-Honnavara, Karnataka, the northernmost population of the species. A local census concluded in 2007, conducted in the Theni District of Tamil Nadu, put their numbers at around 250, which was considered encouraging, because till then, no lion-tailed macaques had been reported in that specific area.[9] Many zoos take part in breeding programs which help to secure the survival of this species. About 338 of these macaques are reported to live in zoos.

    Indian Rhinoceros 
    The rhinoceros's single horn, usually about 35 cm (14 in.) long, is made of compressed hair. It is not used for defence. Rather, the rhinoceros defends itself with the two long canine teeth in its lower jaw, with which it can make horrible gashes. It also has well-developed incisor teeth in its lower jaw. Large folds of skin at its joints and great rolls at its neck combine with the knob-like tubercles and large, horny plates that cover its grey body to give the rhinoceros an armour-plated appearance.

    The weight of the Indian rhinoceros ranges between 1.8 and 3 t (2 to 3.3 tn.). Among land mammals, the Indian rhinoceros (along with the African white rhinoceros) is outweighed only by the elephant.

    The Indian rhinoceros is a success story in rhino conservation. Indian rhinoceroses numbered fewer than 200 animals in the early part of the 1900s. With strict protection from Indian and Nepalese governments, the number has climbed over 2 000. Poaching and habitat loss are still the main concerns, and continued diligence is required.

    Conservation objectives include: the maintenance of a wild population of at least 2 000 animals in at least six major sanctuaries in the current range of the species; translocation of animals to create new sanctuaries and populations; continued anti-poaching efforts; maintenance of a captive population capable of long-term viability to guard against any unforeseen extinction of the wild population; and reduction in the demand for rhinoceros products.

    Indian leopard 
    The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent and classified as Near Threatened by IUCN since 2008. The species Panthera pardus may soon qualify for the Vulnerable status due to habitat loss and fragmentation, heavy poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts in Asia, and persecution due to conflict situations. They are becoming increasingly rare outside protected areas. The trend of the population is decreasing. The Indian leopard is one of the five big cats found in India, apart from Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, snow leopard and clouded leopard.

    In 1794, Friedrich Albrecht Anton Meyer wrote the first description of Felis fusca, in which he gave account of a panther-like cat from Bengal of about 85.5 cm (33.7 in), with strong legs and a long well-formed tail, head as big as a panther’s, broad muzzle, short ears and small, yellowish grey eyes, light grey ocular bulbs; black at first sight, but on closer examination dark brown with circular darker coloured spots, tinged pale red underneath.

    Male Indian leopards grow to between 4 ft 2 in (127 cm) and 4 ft 8 in (142 cm) in body size with a 2 ft 6 in (76 cm) to 3 ft (91 cm) long tail and weigh between 110 and 170 lb (50 and 77 kg). Females are smaller growing to between 3 ft 5 in (104 cm) and 3 ft 10 in (117 cm) in body size with a 2 ft 6 in (76 cm) to 2 ft 10.5 in (87.6 cm) in long tail and weight between 64 and 75 lb (29 and 34 kg).

    On the Indian subcontinent, topographical barriers to the dispersal of this subspecies are the Indus River in the west, and the Himalayas in the north. In the east, the lower course of the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Delta form natural barriers to the distribution of the Indochinese leopard. Indian leopards are distributed all over India, in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan. In the Himalayas they are sympatric with snow leopards up to 5,200 metres (17,100 ft) above sea level. They inhabit tropical rain forests, dry deciduous forests, temperate forests and northern coniferous forests but do not occur in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans. In Nepal's Bardia National Park, home ranges of male leopards comprised about 48 km2 (19 sq mi), and of females about 17 km2 (6.6 sq mi); female home ranges decreased to 5 to 7 km2 (1.9 to 2.7 sq mi) when they had young cubs. In Sariska National Park, the diet of Indian leopards includes axis deer, sambar deer, nilgai, wild pig, common langur, hare and peafowl.

    Hunting for the illegal wildlife trade has the greatest potential to do maximum harm in minimal time. Apart from poaching, Indian leopards are threatened by loss of habitat and fragmentation of formerly connected populations, various levels of human–leopard conflict in human–dominated landscapes, and competition with other predators.

    A significant immediate threat to wild leopard populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning centres. Buyers choose the skins from dealers or tanneries and smuggle them through a complex interlinking network to markets outside India, mainly in China.Seized skins in Kathmandu It is likely that seizures represent a tiny fraction of the total illegal trade, with the majority of smuggled skins reaching their intended end.

    In India: more than 2845 poached leopards between 1994 and October 2010; In Nepal 243 poached leopards between May 2002 and May 2008,189 leopards were killed since 1994.


    Neelgai (Blue Bull)

    Neelgai Antelope Boselaphus tragocamelus Pallas, also called the Blue Bull  are found all over in Haryana. Locally it is called 'Roz' and the Hindi word Neelgai (Nilgai) refers to the bluish color of the adult male, and therefore Blue Bull is another name for the animal. Neelgai probably evolved in open, dry Indian forests during the Tertiary geological period. Nilgai are classified as bovids (family Bovidae), and with their close relative, the Four-horned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis, are the only living representatives of the tribe Boselaphini.

    Neelgai are the largest of the Asiatic antelopes. They have a life expectancy of 20 -30 years, most of which they prefer to spend in open jungles and scrubby grasslands. Adult bulls weigh about 220 kg, while the cows weigh about 180 kg and calves about 7 kg at birth. The blue-gray adult bulls have black legs, and some may be brown-tinged, particularly younger bulls. Cows and calves are fawn or pale brown. All have similar dark and white markings on their ears and legs. Only the males have horns, which are black-colored, short (about 18 cm), sharp, and bi curved. The hair of adults is thin in density, wiry, and somewhat oily. Their skin is thick, particularly on the chest and neck of the bulls, where it forms a dermal shield. The eyesight and hearing of neelgai are quite good but their sense of smell less acute. They have good speed and endurance.

    Neelgai make several low-volume vocalizations, including a short, guttural "bwooah" when alerted. Calves may bawl and may make a grunting sound while nursing. In India, Nilgai occur from the foothills of the Himalayas southward to Mysore. They live on a variety of land types from hillsides to level ground with scattered grass steppes, trees, and cultivated areas, but not in thick forests. Their habitats are characterized by paths, water holes, defecation sites, and resting cover. Neelgai were common in India during the 1880s and were hunted for sport by the British. Besides man, the tiger is their main predator. In the 1980s neelgai had drastically declined because of shooting and loss of habitat. In Haryana they are found mainly in the Morni Hills forest, the Sultanpur National Park, the Saraswati Plantation, the Kalesar forest and in smaller numbers almost in all districts.

    Neelgai segregate into male and female groups except during the breeding season. Bulls do not maintain a fixed territory but defend a space around themselves. Fighting occurs between dominant bulls, and serious injury or death sometimes results. Neelgai make dung piles by defecating repeatedly on the same sites. The social and territorial significance of this habit is not known. Some breeding takes place year-round. At that time breeding groups of one dominant bull and one to several cows are found. The peak calving period is September through November. Female neelgai breed at age two to three years, whereas males may not breed until their fourth year. The gestation period is approximately 245 days. Twinning is common, and triplets occur occasionally.

    Neelgai eat mainly woody plants supplemented by agricultural crops. They upgrade their diet nutritionally by eating forbs, browse, and plant parts (flowers, seeds, fruit, leaves, stem tips). In the absence of preferred food they readily alter their diet. In India they share certain diseases with livestock and wildlife. Perhaps the most universal of these are foot-and-mouth disease and malignant catarrhal fever. The hunting ban on neelgai in Haryana and hence their recent increase in numbers is causing a major concern for the farmers. The reason for their growing numbers is that many Hindus consider it to be a sacred animal. Allowing controlled hunting in some seasons may be the best means of controlling the neelgai population.


    The tiger (Panthera tigris) is the largest cat species, reaching a total body length of up to 3.3 m (11 ft) and weighing up to 306 kg (670 lb). It is the third largest land carnivore (behind only the polar bear and the brown bear). Its most recognizable feature is a pattern of dark vertical stripes on reddish-orange fur with a lighter underside. It has exceptionally stout teeth, and the canines are the longest among living felids with a crown height of as much as 74.5 mm (2.93 in) or even 90 mm (3.5 in). In zoos, tigers have lived for 20 to 26 years, which also seems to be their longevity in the wild. They are territorial and generally solitary but social animals, often requiring large contiguous areas of habitat that support their prey requirements. This, coupled with the fact that they are indigenous to some of the more densely populated places on Earth, has caused significant conflicts with humans.

    Tigers once ranged widely across Asia, from Turkey in the west to the eastern coast of Russia. Over the past 100 years, they have lost 93% of their historic range, and have been extirpated from southwest and central Asia, from the islands of Java and Bali, and from large areas of Southeast and Eastern Asia. Today, they range from the Siberian taiga to open grasslands and tropical mangrove swamps. The remaining six tiger subspecies have been classified as endangered by IUCN. The global population in the wild is estimated to number between 3,062 and 3,948 individuals, down from around 100,000 at the start of the 20th century, with most remaining populations occurring in small pockets isolated from each other. Major reasons for population decline include habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. The extent of area occupied by tigers is estimated at less than 1,184,911 km2 (457,497 sq mi), a 41% decline from the area estimated in the mid-1990s.

    Tigers are among the most recognisable and popular of the world's charismatic megafauna. They have featured prominently in ancient mythology and folklore, and continue to be depicted in modern films and literature. Tigers appear on many flags, coats of arms, and as mascots for sporting teams. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of both India and

    In 1758, Linnaeus first described the species in his work Systema Naturae under the scientific name Felis tigris. In 1929, the British taxonomist Reginald Innes Pocock subordinated the species under the genus Panthera using the scientific name Panthera tigris.

    The word Panthera is probably of Oriental origin and retraceable to the Ancient Greek word panther, the Latin word panthera, the Old French word pantere, most likely meaning "the yellowish animal", or from pandarah meaning whitish-yellow. The derivation from Greek pan- ("all") and ther ("beast") may be folk etymology that led to many curious fables. 

    The word "tiger" is traceable to the Latin word tigris, meaning "a spotted tigerhound of Actaeon".TheGreek word tigris is possibly derived from a Persian source. The oldest remains of a tiger-like  cat, called Panthera   palaeosinensis, have been found  in China and Java. This species lived about 2 million years ago, at the eginning of the Pleistocene, and was smaller than a modern tiger. The earliest fossils of true tigers are known from Java, and are between 1.6 and 1.8 million years old. Distinct fossils from the early and middle Pleistocene were also discovered in deposits in China and Sumatra. A subspecies called the Trinil tiger (Panthera tigris trinilensis) lived about 1.2 million years ago and is known from fossils found at Trinil in Java.

    File:2012 Suedchinesischer Tiger.JPG

    Tigers first reached India and northern Asia in the late Pleistocene, reaching eastern Beringia (but not the American Continent), Japan, and Sakhalin. Fossils found in Japan indicate the local tigers were, like the surviving island subspecies, smaller than the mainland forms. This may be due to the phenomenon in which body size is related to environmental space (see insular dwarfism), or perhaps the availability of prey. Until the Holocene, tigers also lived in Borneo, as well as on the island of Palawan in the Philippines.Tigers have muscular bodies with particularly powerful forelimbs and large heads. The pelage coloration varies between shades of orange or brown with white ventral areas and distinctive black stripes. Their faces have long whiskers, which are especially long in males. The pupils are circular with yellow irises. The small, rounded ears have black markings on the back, surrounding a white spot. These spots, called ocelli, play an important role in intraspecific communication.

    The pattern of stripes is unique to each animal, and these unique markings can be used by researchers to identify individuals (both in the wild and captivity), in much the same way as fingerprints are used to identify humans. The function of stripes is likely camouflage, serving to help tigers conceal themselves amongst the dappled shadows and long grass of their environments as they stalk their prey. The stripe pattern is also found on the skin of the tiger. If a tiger were to be shaved, its distinctive camouflage pattern would be preserved.

    Tigers are the most variable in size of all big cats, even more so than leopards and much more so than lions. The Bengal, Caspian and Siberian tiger subspecies represent the largest living felids, and rank among the biggest felids that ever existed. An average adult male tiger from Northern India or Siberia outweighs an average adult male lion by around 45.5 kg (100 lb). Females vary in length from 200 to 275 cm (79 to 108 in), weigh 65 to 167 kg (140 to 370 lb) with a greatest length of skull ranging from 268 to 318 mm (10.6 to 12.5 in). Males vary in size from 250 to 390 cm (98 to 150 in), weigh 90 to 306 kg (200 to 670 lb) with a greatest length of skull ranging from 316 to 383 mm (12.4 to 15.1 in).[18] Body size of different populations seems to be correlated with climate—Bergmann's rule—and can be explained by thermoregulation. Large male Siberian tigers can reach a total length of more than 3.5 m (11.5 ft) "over curves", 3.3 m (10.8 ft) "between pegs" and a weight of 306 kg (670 lb). This is considerably larger than the size reached by the smallest living tiger subspecies, the Sumatran tiger, which reaches a body weight of 75 to 140 kg (170 to 310 lb). Of the total length of a tiger, the tail comprises 0.6 to 1.1 m (2.0 to 3.6 ft). At the shoulder, tigers may variously stand 0.7 to 1.22 m (2.3 to 4.0 ft) tall.The accepted record weight, per the Guinness Book of World Records, for a wild tiger was 389 kg (860 lb) for a Bengal tiger shot in 1967, though its weight may have been boosted because it had eaten a water buffalo the previous night.

    Tigresses are smaller than the males in each subspecies, although the size difference between male and female tigers tends to be more pronounced in the larger tiger subspecies, with males weighing up to 1.7 times more than the females. In addition, male tigers have wider forepaw pads than females. Biologists use this difference in tracks to determine gender. The skull of the tiger is very similar to that of the lion, though the frontal region is usually not as depressed or flattened, with a slightly longer postorbital region. The skull of a lion has broader nasal openings. However, due to the amount of skull variation in the two species, usually, only the structure of the lower jaw can be used as a reliable indicator of species
    There are 9 subspecies of tiger, three of which are extinct. Their historical range in Bangladesh, Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, India, China, and southeast Asia, including three Indonesian islands is severely diminished today. The surviving subspecies, in descending order of wild population, are The Bengal tiger (P. t. tigris), also called the Indian tiger, lives in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, and is the most common subspecies, with populations estimated at less than 2,500 adult individuals. In 2011, the total population of adult tigers was estimated at 1,520–1,909 in India, 440 in Bangladesh, 155 in Nepal and 75 in Bhutan. It lives in alluvial grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub forests, wet and dry deciduous forests, and mangroves. Male Bengal tigers have a total length, including the tail, of 270 to 310 cm (110 to 120 in), while females range from 240 to 265 cm (94 to 104 in). The weight of males range from 180 to 260 kg (400 to 570 lb), while that of the females range from 100 to 160 kg (220 to 350 lb). In northern India and Nepal, tigers tend to be of larger size. Males often average 235 kilograms (520 lb), while females average 141 kilograms (310 lb). In 1972, Project Tiger was founded in India aiming at ensuring a viable population of tigers in the country and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the people. But the illicit demand for bones and body parts from wild tigers for use in traditional Chinese medicine is the reason for the unrelenting poaching pressure on tigers on the Indian subcontinent. Between 1994 and 2009, the Wildlife Protection Society of India has documented 893 cases of tigers killed in India, which is just a fraction of the actual poaching and illegal trade in tiger parts during those years. An area of special conservation interest lies in the Terai Arc Landscape in the Himalayan foothills of northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas comprising dry forest foothills and tall grass savannas harbor tigers in a landscape of 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi). The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal, a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.
    The Indochinese tiger (P. t. corbetti), also called Corbett's tiger, is found in Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam. These tigers are smaller and darker than Bengal tigers. Males weigh from 150–195 kg (330–430 lb), while females are smaller at 100–130 kg (220–290 lb). Their preferred habitat is forests in mountainous or hilly regions. According to government estimates of national tiger populations, the subspecies numbers around a total of 350 individuals. All existing populations are at extreme risk from poaching, prey depletion as a result of poaching of primary prey species such as deer and wild pigs, habitat fragmentation, and inbreeding. In Vietnam, almost three-quarters of the tigers killed provide stock for Chinese pharmacies.

    The Malayan tiger (P. t. jacksoni), exclusively found in the southern part of the Malay Peninsula, was not considered a subspecies in its own right until 2004. The new classification came about after a study by Luo et al. from the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity Study, part of the National Cancer Institute of the United States. According to official government figures, the population in the wild may number around 500 individuals, but is under considerable poaching pressure. The Malayan tiger is the smallest of the mainland tiger subspecies, and the second-smallest living subspecies, with males averaging about 120 kg (260 lb) and females about 100 kg (220 lb) in weight. The Malayan tiger is a national icon in Malaysia, appearing on its coat of arms and in logos of Malaysian institutions, such as Maybank. 

    The Sumatran tiger (P. t. sumatrae) is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and is critically endangered. It is the smallest of all living tiger subspecies, with adult males weighing between 100 and 140 kg (220 and 310 lb) and females 75 and 110 kg (170 and 240 lb).Their small size is an adaptation to the thick, dense forests of the island of Sumatra where they reside, as well as the smaller-sized prey. The wild population is estimated at between 400 and 500, seen chiefly in the island's national parks. Recent genetic testing has revealed the presence of unique genetic markers, indicating it may develop into a separate species,[specify] if it does not go extinct. This has led to suggestions that Sumatran tigers should have greater priority for conservation than any other subspecies. While habitat destruction is the main threat to existing tiger population (logging continues even in the supposedly protected national parks), 66 tigers were recorded as being shot and killed between 1998 and 2000, or nearly 20% of the total population. 

    The Siberian tiger (P. t. altaica), also known as the Amur tiger, inhabits the Amur-Ussuri region of Primorsky Krai and Khabarovsk Krai in far eastern Siberia.It ranks among the largest felids ever to have existed, with a head and body length of 160–180 cm (63–71 in) for females and 190–230 cm (75–91 in) for males, plus a tail of about 60–110 cm (24–43 in), with adult males weighing between 180 and 306 kg (400 and 670 lb) and females 100 and 167 kg (220 and 370 lb). The average weight of an adult male is around 227 kg (500 lb). Siberian tigers have thick coats, a paler golden hue, and fewer stripes. The heaviest wild Siberian tiger weighed 384 kg (850 lb), but according to Maz├ík, this record is not reliable. In 2005, there were 331–393 adult and subadult Siberian tigers in the region, with a breeding adult population of about 250 individuals. The population has been stable for more than a decade, but partial surveys conducted after 2005 indicate the Russian tiger population is declining. At the turn of the century, the phylogenetic relationships of tiger subspecies was reassessed, and a remarkable similarity between the Siberian and Caspian tigers was observed, indicating the Siberian tiger population is the genetically closest living relative of the extinct Caspian tiger, and strongly implying a very recent common ancestry for the two groups.

    The South China tiger (P. t. amoyensis), also known as the Amoy or Xiamen tiger, is the most critically endangered subspecies of tiger, and is listed as one of the 10 most endangered animals in the world. One of the smaller tiger subspecies, the length of the South China tiger ranges from 2.2–2.6 m (87–100 in) for both males and females. Males weigh between 127 and 177 kg (280 and 390 lb) while females weigh between 100 and 118 kg (220 and 260 lb). From 1983 to 2007, no South China tigers were sighted. In 2007, a farmer spotted a tiger and handed in photographs to the authorities as proof. The photographs in question, however, were later exposed as fake, copied from a Chinese calendar and digitally altered, and the "sighting" turned into a massive scandal. In 1977, the Chinese government passed a law banning the killing of wild tigers, but this may have been too late to save the subspecies, since it is possibly already extinct in the wild. Currently, 59 captive South China tigers are known, all within China, but these are known to be descended from only six animals. Thus, the genetic diversity required to maintain the subspecies may no longer exist.[citation needed] Currently, efforts are being made to breed and reintroduce these tigers to the wild.[citation needed] The Bali tiger (P. t. balica) was limited to the Indonesian island of Bali, and was the smallest subspecies, with a weight of 90–100 kg (200–220 lb) in males and 65–80 kg (140–180 lb) in females. Bali tigers were hunted to extinction—the last Bali tiger, an adult female, is thought to have been killed at Sumbar Kima, West Bali, on 27 September 1937. There is no Bali tiger in captivity. The tiger still plays an important role in Balinese Hinduism. 

    The Caspian tiger (P. t. virgata), also known as the Hyrcanian tiger or Turan tiger was found in the sparse forest habitats and riverine corridors west and south of the Caspian Sea and west through Central Asia into the Takla-Makan desert of Xinjiang, and had been recorded in the wild until the early 1970s. The Amur tiger is the genetically closest living relative of the Caspian tiger.

    The Javan tiger (P. t. sondaica) was limited to the island of Java, and had been recorded until the mid-1970s. Javan tigers were larger than Bali tigers; males weighed 100–140 kg (220–310 lb) and females 75–115 kg (170–250 lb). After 1979, no more sightings were confirmed in the region of Mount Betiri. An expedition to Mount Halimun Salak National Park in 1990 did not yield any definite, direct evidence for the continued existence of tigers.

    Hybridisation among the big cats, including the tiger, was first conceptualised in the 19th century, when zoos were particularly interested in the pursuit of finding oddities to display for financial gain. Lions have been known to breed with tigers (most often the Amur and Bengal subspecies) to create hybrids called ligers and tigons. Such hybrids were once commonly bred in zoos, but this is now discouraged due to the emphasis on conserving species and subspecies. Hybrids are still bred in private menageries and in zoos in China. 

    The liger is a cross between a male lion and a tigress. Because the lion sire passes on a growth-promoting gene, but the corresponding growth-inhibiting gene from the female tiger is absent, ligers grow far larger than either parent. They share physical and behavioural qualities of both parent species (spots and stripes on a sandy background). Male ligers are sterile, but female ligers are often fertile. Males have about a 50% chance of having a mane, but, even if they do, their manes will be only around half the size of that of a pure lion. Ligers are typically between 10 and 12 feet in length, and can weigh between 800 and 1,000 pounds or more. The less common tigon is a cross between the lioness and the male tiger.

    A well-known allele produces the white tiger, technically known as chinchilla albinistic, an animal which is rare in the wild, but widely bred in zoos due to its popularity. Breeding of white tigers will often lead to inbreeding (as the trait is recessive). Many initiatives have taken place in white and orange tiger mating in an attempt to remedy the issue, often mixing subspecies in the process. Such
     inbreeding has led to white tigers having a greater likelihood of being born with physical defects, such as cleft palates and scoliosis (curvature of the spine). Furthermore, white tigers are prone to having crossed eyes (strabismus). Even apparently healthy white tigers generally do not live as long as their orange counterparts. Records of white tigers were first made in the early 19th century. They can only occur when both parents carry the rare gene found in white tigers; this gene has been calculated to occur in only one in every 10,000 births. The white tiger is not a separate sub-species, but only a colour variation; since the only white tigers to have been observed in the wild have been Bengal tigers (and all white tigers in captivity are at least part Bengal), the recessive gene that causes the white colouring is commonly thought to be carried only by Bengal tigers, although the reasons for this are not known. They are not in any way more endangered than tigers are generally, this being a common misconception. Another misconception is white tigers are albinos, despite pigment being evident in the white tiger's stripes. They are distinct not only because of their white hue, but they also have blue eyes.

    The causative mutation has been identified: it is due to a mutation in codon 477 from Alanine to Valine (A477V) in the transporter protein SLC45A2. The mutation is a transition from a cytosine to a thymidine at base position 1429 in the coding sequence. 
    In addition, another recessive gene may create a very unusual "golden" or "golden tabby" colour variation, sometimes known as "strawberry". Golden tigers have light-gold fur, pale legs, and faint orange stripes. Their fur tends to be much thicker than normal. Extremely few golden tigers are kept in captivity, around 30 in all. Like white tigers, golden tigers are invariably at least part Bengal. 
    File:Golden tiger 1 - Buffalo Zoo.jpg

    Some golden tigers carry the white tiger gene, and when two such tigers are mated, they can produce some stripeless white offspring. Both white and golden tigers tend to be larger than average Bengal tigers. 
    No black tiger has been authenticated, with the possible exception of one dead specimen examined in Chittagong in 1846. There are unconfirmed reports of a "blue" or slate-coloured tiger, the Maltese tiger. Largely or totally black tigers are assumed, if real, to be intermittent mutations rather than distinct species. 

    Many more animals: