Western Ghats Biodiversity Information System

Introduction to Western Ghats

The Western Ghats comprise the mountain range that runs along the western coast of India, from the Vindhya-Satpura ranges in the north to the southern tip. The ecosystems of the Western Ghats are located mainly in the following regions: the tropical wet evergreen forests in Amboli and Radhanagari; the Montane evergreen forests in Mahabaleshwar and Bhimashanker; moist deciduous forests in Mulsi and the scrub forest in Mundunthurai.

There is a great variety of vegetation all along the Ghats: scrub jungles, grassland along the lower altitudes, dry and moist deciduous forests, and semi-evergreen and evergreen forests. There are two main centres of diversity, the Agashyamalai hills and the Silent Valley. The complex topography and the heavy rainfall have made certain areas inaccessible and have helped the region retain its diversity.

Almost one-third of all the flowering plant species in India are found in this region. Of the 450-odd plants found in this region, 40% are endemic (these are species that have adapted to this particular area and the conditions existing in it.) There is an equal diversity of animal and bird life. There is only one biodiversity reserve in the Western Ghats, the Nilgiri biodiversity reserve,which helps in conserving endemic and endangered species. A few of the indigenous and exotic tree and plant species in the Western Ghats are the teak, jamun, cashew, hog plum, coral tree, jasmine, and crossandra.

Some of the national parks situated in this region are the Borivali national park in Maharahshtra near Mumbai, which is home to a large variety of birds, and the Nagarhole national park, which borders the Bandipur national park, famous for its tiger leopard, sloth bear, barking deer and mouse deer. More than 250 species of birds are found in this park. There is the Anamalai wildlife sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, which has evergreen forests and tall high-altitude temperate grasslands. The Nilgiri languar, the rare lion-tailed macaque, spotted deer, and the giant squirrel are some of the animals found here. Racket tailed drongos, hornbills, fairy bluebirds are some of the birds seen here. The famous Periyar national park in Kerala is home to a large number of elephants, gaur, sambhar, and lion-tailed macaque and a variety of birds.

During the past 40 to 50 years the plant and animal life has as a whole suffered due to so-called development and urbanization, which has led to the extinction of many species and more are in danger of becoming extinct.