Birding in Chennai

Housing more than 200 resident and wintering bird species, Chennai (formerly known as Madras) has long been a haven for bird watchers. It is the one of the few urban areas in India with diverse range of birds including greater flamingo, black baza, osprey, Eurasian eagle-owl, malabar barbet, Spot billed pelican and pied avocet can be seen. The following are some known birding hotspots in and around Chennai.

ChennaiBirds
Birds of Chennai
GNP-Blackbuck-scape
A blackbuck in Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park (GNP) is one of India's smallest national parks covering an area of 2.7 km2. It is situated in the midst of the city, and is often called 'the lungs of Chennai'.

The habitat consists of dry evergreen scrub, thorn forest, open grassland and small water bodies. The star attractions of the Guindy National Park are the blackbuck antelope and the Indian star tortoise. Spotted deer, golden jackal, civet cat, pangolins and various species of snakes and butterflies can also be seen in the national park.[1]

Highlight: Guindy is the only place in Chennai where the very rare raptor, the black baza has been recorded during winter. The red winged crested cuckoo is another uncommon bird species found here.

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Barn owl at GNP

Over 100 resident and migratory bird species have been recorded so far, the commonest raptors being: Oriental honey buzzard, white-eyed buzzard and shikra. Migratory raptors including black baza, common kestrel and booted eagle can be seen during the winter months. Resident birds include red-vented bulbul, red-whiskered bulbul and white-browed bulbul, coppersmith barbet, sunbirds, yellow-wattled lapwing, Indian robin, lesser flameback woodpecker and spotted owlet.

How to reach Guindy: Google Maps

Lesser Flameback at Theosophical society
Lesser flameback at Theosophical Society

Theosophical Society Gardens

The Theosophical Society Gardens is one of the best birdwatching spots in Chennai. Being adjacent to the Adyar Estuary, TS hosts more than 50+ species of resident and migrant bird species.

The habitat consists of thick woodland, some fruiting trees, undergrowth, flower garden and the estuary.

The Theosophical Society Gardens has a good number of golden jackal, and housing many flowering trees and nectaring plants, this place is good for butterfly and insect lovers too. During the winter a large number of waders and other water birds can be seen near the estuary.

Highlight: This is one place in Chennai where the black-capped kingfisher has been recorded.

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Purple rumped sunbird ath the Theosophical Society

Some of the resident bird species seen here are lesser flameback woodpecker, coppersmith barbet, hoopoe, southern coucal, rufous treepie, Asian koel, sunbirds, yellow-billed babbler, common hawk-cuckoo, shikra, spotted owlet, spotted dove, rose-ringed parakeet, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher and Oriental honey buzzard.

During winter one can see Indian paradise flycatcher, Asian brown flycatcher, brown-breasted flycatcher, Indian pitta, Blyth's reed warbler in the TS gardens, and in the estuary herons, egrets, sandpipers, black-winged stilt, godwits and plovers can all be seen.

How to reach Theosophical Society Gardens: Google Maps

OrangeHeadedThrush
Orange headed thrush Z.c.citrina sub-species at IIT Campus

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Campus

Adjacent to the Guindy National Park, the IIT campus has a few patches of well-wooded forest which are very good for birdwatching. The presence of multiple micro-ecosystems in a small area located in an urban environment makes it an ideal place to see many species of birds (up to 50 species in 2 hours during the winter season). Over 100 resident and migrant bird species have been recorded here. Prakriti, a wildlife club run by the students, staff and residents of IIT takes part in conservation activities and helps protect the biodiversity in campus.

The habitat consists of dry evergreen forest, reed beds, well-wooded forest, open grassland, dry scrub and undergrowth. The main inhabitants here are blackbuck antelope, spotted deer, Indian grey mongoose, golden jackal, monitor lizard, snakes, and over 40 butterfly species.

Highlight: The wintering sub-species of orange-headed ground thrush (Zoothera citrina citrina) can be seen here.

Resident bird species seen here include lesser flameback woodpecker, coppersmith barbet, hoopoe, greater coucal, rufous treepie, Asian koel, sunbirds, yellow-billed babbler, common hawk-cuckoo, shikra, spotted owlet, spotted dove, rose-ringed parakeet, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher, collared scops-owl, Asian openbill stork, brown hawk-owl, slaty-breasted rail, white-breasted waterhen, purple moorhen, common moorhen, blue-faced malkoha, red-vented bulbul, white-browed bulbul, red-whiskered bulbul and Oriental honey buzzard.

During wintering months one can see Indian paradise flycatcher, Asian brown flycatcher, Indian pitta, orange-headed ground thrush, large-billed leaf warbler, Blyth's reed warbler, and forest wagtail in the IIT campus.

How to reach IIT campus: Google Maps

FulvousWhistlingDuck-Pallikaranai
Rare fulvous whistling ducks at Pallikaranai marsh

Pallikaranai marsh

Pallikaranai marsh is a freshwater swamp adjacent to the Bay of Bengal covering an area of 80 square kilometres. It is one of the finest natural freshwater ecosystems in the city. Over 100 resident and migratory bird species have been recorded so far.

The habitat consists of fresh/saline water bodies, reed beds, mud flats and floating vegetation.

Highlights: Fulvous whistling duck,[2] grey-headed lapwing, greater flamingo and waders like pied avocet, sandpipers and ruffs can be seen here during wintering months.

Osprey - Pallikaranai
Osprey at Pallikaranai marsh

Resident bird species include purple swamphen, common moorhen, pheasant-tailed jacana, purple heron, black-winged stilt, common coot, spot-billed duck, spot-billed pelican, prinias, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, pied crested cuckoo, white-breasted kingfisher and grey heron.

Raptors like shikra, black-winged kite, black kite, red-necked falcon, marsh harrier, Montague's harrier and booted eagle can also be seen here.

During wintering months thousands of waders and migratory ducks fill the marsh, which becomes a paradise for bird watchers. Osprey, greater flamingo, northern pintail duck, northern shoveller, garganey teal, black-tailed godwit, pied avocet, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper and marsh sandpiper, whiskered tern, rosy starling, yellow wagtail, little stint, grey-headed lapwing, glossy ibis and black-headed ibis, ruff and greenshank all visit the Pallikaranai marsh.

How to reach Pallikaranai marsh: Google Maps

GHO-Nanmangalam
Great horned owl at Nanmangalam RF

Nanmangalam Reserve Forest

Nanmangalam Reserve Forest is a scrub forest covering an area of 320 hectares. It is the only place in the city where the great horned owl (Eurasian eagle-owl) is resident. It has been successfully breeding there for two decades. Over 80 species of resident and migratory birds have been recorded so far. Nanmangalam Reserve Forest is a very good place for reptiles and insects too.

The habitat consists of thick scrub forest, well-wooded eucalyptus plantations, three big abandoned quarries and small hillocks.

Highlight: The great horned owl is the star attraction in Nanmangalam Reserve forest. Orange-breasted green pigeon was seen recently for the first time.

IndianNightJar-Nanmangalam
Common Indian nightjar at Nanmanagalam RF

Resident bird species include Indian robin and magpie robin, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher and white-breasted kingfisher, great horned owl, common iora, purple-rumped sunbird, purple sunbird and Loten's sunbird, spotted dove and laughing dove, Indian nightjar, Eurasian stone-curlew (thick-knee), ashy woodswallow, common woodshrike, blue-faced malkoha, common babbler, red-whiskered bulbul, red-vented bulbul and white-browed bulbul, Oriental honey buzzard, white-eyed buzzard and shikra.

During the wintering months Indian pitta, rosy starling, orange-headed ground thrush, Indian paradise flycatcher, Asian brown flycatcher, common kestrel, booted eagle, common snipe and blue-tailed bee-eater can all be seen.

How to reach Nanmangalam Reserve Forest: Google Maps

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Red-necked falcon at Siruthavur lake

Siruthavur Lake

Siruthavur Lake is a rain-fed fresh water lake used for irrigation and fishing. Famous for the fresh water ducks such as Eurasian wigeon and cotton pygmy goose, over 70 resident and migratory bird species have been recorded so far. This is one place near Chennai where both red-wattled lapwing and yellow-wattled lapwing are seen in close proximity.

The habitat consists of a freshwater lake system, open grassland, sparse dry scrub and reed beds.

Highlights: Indian courser are recorded to breed here. uncommon raptors such as red-necked falcon and short-toed snake-eagle can also be spotted.

OrientalPratincole
Oriental pratincole at Siruthavur lake

Some of the resident bird species include little green bee-eater, pied bushchat, ashy-crowned sparrow-lark, paddyfield pipit, yellow-wattled lapwing, red-wattled lapwing, Indian courser, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher, little ringed plover, red-rumped swallow, shikra, white-eyed buzzard, red-necked falcon, short-toed snake-eagle, baya weaver, zitting cisticola, plain prinia, ashy prinia and Indian roller.

During winter months blue-tailed bee-eater, common kestrel, yellow wagtail, barn swallow, glossy ibis, black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, painted stork, openbill stork, booted eagle, Oriental pratincole, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper and greenshank can be spotted.

How to reach Siruthavur Lake: Google Maps

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Eurasian wigeon pair at Chembarambakkam

Chembarambakkam lake

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Blue tailed bee-eater at Chembarambakkam lake
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Greater flamingo juveniles at Kelambakkam backwaters

Chembarabakkam lake is another rain-water fed freshwater lake covering an area of 15 sq km. This place is famous for wintering ducks and other migratory water birds. At least 60+ resident and migrant bird species have been recorded so far.

The habitat consists of a fresh water lake system, sparse scrub, reed beds, open dry land and floating vegetation.

Highlight: Hundreds of Eurasian wigeon, fulvous whistling duck, peregrine falcon, and cotton teal are recorded during winter. Red-necked falcons and golden jackals are recorded breeding in the open dry patches around the lake.

Resident bird species include pond heron, little cormorant, purple heron, spot-billed pelican, ashy woodswallow, little grebe, little green bee-eater, white-eyed buzzard, spotted owlet, Oriental darter, little egret, great egret, common coot, purple moorhen, white-breasted waterhen, bay-backed shrike, pied bushchat, grey francolin, ashy-crowned sparrow-lark, paddyfield pipit, black drongo, plain prinia, ashy prinia, black bittern, shikra, red munia, tricoloured munia, Indian silverbill, pheasant-tailed jacana.

During the wintering months common kestrel, Montague's harrier, blue-tailed bee-eater, barn swallow, Eurasian wigeon, cotton pygmy goose, fulvous whistling duck, painted stork, openbill stork can be spotted.

How to reach Chembarambakkam lake: Google Maps

Perumbakkam Lake

Perumbakkam lake near Sholinganallur Signal (towards Medavakkam) is good place for birding. A lot of pelicans, painted storks, ducks, etc. are seen throughout the year. This a nice spot for all birders within the city limits.

Kelambakkam backwaters

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Eurasian curlew with crab at Kelambakkam backwaters
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Asian openbill stork at Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Kelambakkam backwaters is a brackish water lagoon adjacent to the Bay of Bengal in the East Coast Road. This place is a haven for waders, terns, gulls and other winter migrants. More than 80 species of bird have been recorded so far.

The habitat consists of coastal water mudflats, sand banks, salt pans and small scrubs.

Highlights: Thousands of gulls and terns are recorded during the winter months. Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, greater flamingo, great crested tern, Sandwich tern, white-winged black tern can be spotted during February and March. Black ibis were recorded for the first time in Chennai recently.

The resident birds seen here include little cormorant, spot-billed pelican, little grebe, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher, little green or striated heron, little green bee-eater, black drongo, red-wattled lapwing, pond heron.

Thousands of waders can be seen here during winter. Some of the winter migrants seen here are common tern, little tern, whiskered tern, gull-billed tern, great crested tern, Sandwich tern, white-winged black tern, Caspian tern, brown headed/black headed/Pallas gulls, Kentish/lesser sand/Pacific golden/grey plovers, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, Terek sandpiper, Eurasian curlew, whimbrel, osprey, little stint, Temminck's stint, dunlin, black-tailed godwit, common redshank, greenshank, painted stork, openbill stork and grey heron.

Spot Billed Pelican, Kelambakkam Backwaters, Chennai
Kelambakkam Backwaters is one of the most important bird watching spots in Chennai. Lot of bird variety are found here throughout the year. Spot billed pelican seen as it is just about to land.

How to reach Kelambakkam backwaters: Google Maps

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in India. Covering 30 hectares, this lake is a nesting colony for thousands of winter migrants. The lake has trees like Barringtonia and Acacia species where the nests are built and young are raised.

Highlights: Heronry and wintering ducks.

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Northern pintails at Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

The bird species that nest here include painted stork, grey heron, Eurasian spoonbill, darter (snakebird), little cormorant, spot-billed pelican, black-headed ibis, glossy ibis, little egret, intermediate egret and great egret, black-crowned night heron, pond heron and Asian openbill stork. Hundreds of garganey teals, northern pintail and northern shoveller can also be seen in the lake. The best time to visit Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary is from November to March.

How to reach Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary: Google Maps

GreaterFlamingo-Mudaliarkuppam
Greater flamingos at Mudaliarkuppam

Mudaliarkuppam backwaters

Mudaliarkuppam backwaters is a brackish water lagoon adjacent to the Bay of Bengal on the East Coast Road. This is yet another haven for wading birds and migratory ducks.

The habitat consists of coastal water mudflats, sand banks and salt pans.

Highlights: Hundreds of greater flamingos can be spotted here throughout the year. Thousands of migratory ducks, terns and waders can also be spotted during winter months.

Whiskered Terns - Mudaliarkuppam, India
Gull billed terns at Mudaliarkuppam

The resident birds seen here include little cormorant, spot-billed pelican, little grebe, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher, little green or striated heron, pond heron and red-wattled lapwing.

Some of the winter migrants seen here are greater flamingo, Kentish plover, lesser sand plover, Pacific golden plover, grey plover, common sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, Eurasian curlew, osprey, little stint, Temminck's stint, black-tailed godwit, common redshank, greenshank, common tern, little tern, whiskered tern, gull-billed tern, Caspian tern, brown-headed gull, Pallas's gull, slender-billed gull, painted stork, openbill stork and grey heron. Thousands of Eurasian wigeon, northern pintail, northern shoveller also use the backwaters.

How to reach Mudaliarkuppam backwaters: Google Maps

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Zitting cisticola at Vedanthangal scrub

Vedanthangal scrub and reed bed

Vedanthangal scrub and reed bed are among the lesser explored birding areas where some uncommon and exceptional bird species can be spotted. Over 40 species can be seen in this very small area en route to the Vedanthangal bird sanctuary.[3]

This is one of the best mixed habitats in Chennai, comprising thin scrub land, small ponds, reedbeds and grassland interspersed with paddy fields.

Highlights: Elusive bird species like slaty-breasted rail and ruddy-breasted crake can be spotted here. For the first time in Chennai, a rufous-rumped grassbird was recorded here.

RedMunia-VedanthangalScrub
Red munia at Vedanthangal Scrub

Some of the resident bird species that can be seen here are little green bee-eater, blue-tailed bee-eater, plain prinia, ashy prinia, zitting cisticola, greater coucal, pied cuckoo, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher, white-breasted waterhen, ruddy-breasted crake, slaty-breasted rail, tricolored munia, Indian silverbill (white-throated munia), scaly-breasted munia, red munia, paddyfield pipit, yellow bittern, black bittern, purple-rumped sunbird, purple sunbird, clamorous reed-warbler, pied wagtail, Asian palm swift, pond heron, black-shouldered kite, spotted dove and laughing dove.

Wintering species like booted warbler, Blyth's reed warbler and common kestrel can also be seen.

How to reach Vedanthangal: Google Maps

Adyar/Tholkappia Poonga

Adyar Poonga is an eco park on the banks of the Adyar estuary covering 1.45 square kilometres. Over 100 bird species and over 70 species of butterflies have been recorded in and around the park so far.

The habitat consists of small ponds, flower gardens, sand banks, small scrub and estuary.

Highlights: Heronry and waders during the winter months. Uncommon butterflies like painted lady and black rajah have also been spotted here.

Some of the resident bird species that can be seen here are little cormorant, black-crowned night heron, little grebe, sunbirds, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher, white-breasted kingfisher, black-capped kingfisher, lesser whistling teal, white-breasted waterhen, cinnamon bittern, black bittern and little green bee-eater.

The wintering species that visit the estuary are black-winged stilt, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, black-tailed godwit, little ringed plover, lesser sand plover, Pacific golden plover, whiskered tern, gull-billed tern, little egret and great egret.

How to reach Adyar/Tholkappia Poonga: Google Maps

DucksPulicat
Northern pintails/shovellers at Pulicat lake

Pulicat Lake/Shar Road and Annamalaichery Backwaters

Pulicat lake and Annamalaichery Backwaters are salt water lagoons/backwaters adjacent to the Bay of Bengal. Pulicat lake is known as the second largest salt water lake in India, covering an area of around 450 square kilometres. Over 130 resident and migratory bird species have been recorded so far.[4][5]

The habitat consists of shallow brackish water lagoons, tidal mudflats, sand banks, thin scrub intercepted by paddy fields and reed beds.

Highlights: Thousands of greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, wintering ducks and waders have been recorded during the winter. White-bellied sea-eagle, osprey and booted eagle can also be seen.

WesternReefEgret-Pulicat
Western reef egret – intermediate morph at Pulicat

Some of the bird species spotted here in winter include greater flamingo, lesser flamingo, northern pintail, northern shoveller ducks, sandpipers, plovers, terns, gulls, osprey, painted stork, Asian openbill stork, glossy ibis, black-headed ibis, western reef egret, little egret, intermediate egret, great egret, greenshank, common redshank, spotted redshank, godwits, pied avocet, Eurasian curlew, spot-billed pelican, stints, peregrine falcon and common kestrel.

How to reach Pulicat Lake: Google Maps

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Spot billed pelican nesting at Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is one of the best breeding grounds for spot-billed pelican in the country. Covering an area of 4.5 square kilometres, this lake serves as a nesting colony for thousands of winter migrants. The lake has Barringtonia species trees where these wintering birds build their nests.

Highlights: Heronry and wintering ducks.

AsianOpenbill-Nellapattu
Asian openbill nesting at Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary

The bird species that nest here include painted stork, grey heron, Eurasian spoonbill, darter, little cormorant, Indian shag, spot-billed pelican, black-headed ibis, glossy ibis, little egret, intermediate egret, great egret, black-crowned night heron, pond heron and Asian openbill stork. Hundreds of garganey teal, northern pintail, gadwall and northern shoveller can also be seen on the lake. The best time to visit this place is from November to March.

How to reach Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary: Google Maps

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ Tamil Nadu Forest Department. Guindy National Park. http://www.forests.tn.nic.in/wildbiodiversity/np_gnp.html Archived 28 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ The Hindu. Fulvous Whistling Duck sighted at Pallikaranai. 17 July 2009. http://www.hindu.com/2009/07/17/stories/2009071759220400.htm
  3. ^ Tamil Nadu Forest Department – Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary http://www.forests.tn.nic.in/wildbiodiversity/bs_vedabs.html Archived 3 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ V. Kannan et al. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. The Waterbirds of Pulicat Lake, Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu, India, Including Those of the Adjoining Wetlands And Heronries. 105 (2), May–Aug 2008. Pages 162–180 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary – Overview. http://www.pulicatlake.org/Nelapattu%20Bird%20Sanctuary%20An%20Overview.pdf Archived 30 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
Adyar creek

Adyar creek is a backwater estuary located in Adyar, Chennai at the mouth of the Adyar river along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. The creek begins near the Chetinnad Palace, extending northward into the mainland and taking a complete U-turn near the Foreshore Estate before ending near Mandavelipakkam. The creek surrounds the Quibble Island.

Chembarambakkam Lake

Chembarambakkam lake, is a lake located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, about 25 km from Chennai. It is one of the two rain-fed reservoirs from where water is drawn for supply to Chennai City, the other one being the Puzhal Lake. The Adyar River originates from this lake. A part of water supply of the metropolis of Chennai is drawn from this lake.

During Chennai's water crisis of 2019, Chembarambakkam Lake dried up.

Ennore creek

Ennore creek is a backwater located in Ennore, Chennai along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is located in the zone comprising lagoons with salt marshes and backwaters, submerged under water during high tide and forming an arm of the sea with the opening to the Bay of Bengal at the creek. The zone is spread over an area of 4 km2, and the creek covers an area of 2.25 km2. It is located 20 km north of the city centre and 2.6 km south of the Ennore Port, and the creek area stretches 3 km into the sea and 5 km along the coast. The creek is nearly 400 m wide, elongated in northeast-southwest direction and merging with the backwater bodies. Once a flourishing mangrove swamp, the creek has been degraded to patches in the fringes mainly due to human activities in the region. The depth of the creek varies from 1 to 2 m and is shallow near the mouth. The north–south trending channels of the creek connect it with the Pulicat Lake to the north and to the distributaries of the Kosasthalaiyar River in the south. The northwestern part of the creek merges with the tidal flats. The soil in the region is of loamy and alluvial types. Most of the area consists of tracts of alluvial soil and the eastern region comprises beach dunes, tidal flats and creek. The creek is oriented from west to east and opens into the Bay of Bengal to the east at Ennore. The creek acts as an outlet for the excess water from the Poondi Reservoir. The creek separates the town of Ennore from the Ennore Port located in the north and the Kattupalli Shipyard located further north. The North Chennai Thermal Power Station is located at the north of the creek and the Ennore Thermal Power Station is located to the south. The creek is part of the Pulicat water system, including the Pulicat lagoon and the Buckingham Canal. As per the 1991 Coastal Regulation Zone notification, the entire Pulicat water system is designated CRZ I. The creek is experiencing siltation due to emergence of the Ennore Port.

Fauna of India

India has some of the world's most biodiverse regions. The political boundaries of India encompass a wide range of ecozones—desert, high mountains, highlands, tropical and temperate forests, swamplands, plains, grasslands, areas surrounding rivers, as well as island archipelago. It hosts

4 biodiversity hotspots:the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, the Indo-Burma region and the Sundaland (Includes Nicobar group of Islands). These hotspots have numerous endemic species.India, for the most part, lies within the Indomalaya ecozone, with the upper reaches of the Himalayas forming part of the Palearctic ecozone; the contours of 2000 to 2500m are considered to be the altitudinal boundary between the Indo-Malayan and Palearctic zones. India displays significant biodiversity. One of seventeen megadiverse countries, it is home to 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of all avian, 6.2% of all reptilian, 4.4% of all amphibian, 11.7% of all fish, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species.The region is also heavily influenced by summer monsoons that cause major seasonal changes in vegetation and habitat.

India forms a large part of the Indomalayan biogeographical zone and many of the floral and faunal forms show Malayan affinities with only a few taxa being unique to the Indian region. The unique forms includes the snake family Uropeltidae found only in the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka. Fossil taxa from the Cretaceous show links to the Seychelles and Madagascar chain of islands. The Cretaceous fauna include reptiles, amphibians and fishes and an extant species demonstrating this phylogeographical link is the purple frog. The separation of India and Madagascar is traditionally estimated to have taken place about 88 million years ago. However, there are suggestions that the links to Madagascar and Africa were present even at the time when the Indian subcontinent met Eurasia. India has been suggested as a ship for the movement of several African taxa into Asia. These taxa include five frog families (including the Myobatrachidae), three caecilian families, a lacertid lizard and freshwater snails of the family Potamiopsidae. A thirty million year old Ologocene era fossil tooth from the Bugti Hills of central Pakistan has been identified as from a lemur-like primate, prompting controversial suggestions that the lemurs may have originated in Asia. Lemur fossils from India in the past led to theories of a lost continent called Lemuria. This theory however was dismissed when continental drift and plate tectonics became well established.

The flora and fauna of India have been studied and recorded from early times in folk traditions and later by researchers following more formal scientific approaches (See Natural history in India). Game laws are reported from the third century BC.A little under 5% of this total area is formally classified under protected areas.

India is home to several well-known large mammals, including the Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, leopard and Indian rhinoceros. Some of these animals are engrained in culture, often being associated with deities.

These large mammals are important for wildlife tourism in India, and several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries cater to these needs. The popularity of these charismatic animals have helped greatly in conservation efforts in India. The tiger has been particularly important, and Project Tiger, started in 1972, was a major effort to conserve the tiger and its habitats. Project Elephant, though less known, started in 1992 and works for elephant protection. Most of India's rhinos today survive in the Kaziranga National Park.

Some other well-known large Indian mammals are: ungulates such as the 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 dhole or wild dogs are also widely distributed. It is also home to the striped hyaena. Many smaller animals such as macaques, langurs and mongoose species are especially well known due to their ability to live close to or inside urban areas Adhu.

Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park is a 2.70 km2 (1.04 sq mi) protected area of Tamil Nadu, located in Chennai, India, is the 8th-smallest National Park of India and one of the very few national parks situated inside a city. The park is an extension of the grounds surrounding Raj Bhavan, formerly known as the 'Guindy Lodge', the official residence of the Governor of Tamil Nadu, India. It extends deep inside the governor's estate, enclosing beautiful forests, scrub lands, lakes and streams.

The park has a role in both ex-situ and in-situ conservation and is home to 400 blackbucks, 2,000 spotted deers, 24 jackals, a wide variety of snakes, geckos, tortoises and over 130 species of birds, 14 species of mammals, over 60 species of butterflies and spiders each, a wealth of different invertebrates—grasshoppers, ants, termites, crabs, snails, slugs, scorpions, mites, earthworms, millipedes, and the like. These are free-ranging fauna and live with the minimal of interference from human beings. The only major management activity is protection as in any other in-situ conservation area. The park attracts more than 700,000 visitors every year.

Madras Naturalists' Society

Madras Naturalists' Society is a non-governmental organization that promotes appreciation, education and conservation of Nature. It was founded by bird watchers from the city of Madras (now Chennai), India) on 17 May 1978. G. K. Bhat was the organization's first President. The logo of the society is a Blackbuck

The society started publishing a monthly bulletin from December 1978 and a quarterly journal Blackbuck from January 1985 Blackbuck carries semi-technical articles and works of popular interest. The digitised Version of 'Blackbuck' and the monthly bulletin was unveiled on 2 July 2015 to the members. An anthology of writings from the Blackbuck titled Sprint of the Blackbuck was published in 2012. The volume was edited by noted Tamil film historian and Madras Naturalists' Society member S. Theodore Baskaran.

Starting from Madhavaiah Krishnan's birth centenary year in 2012, the society annual presents a "M. Krishnan Memorial Nature Writing Award" for young wildlife writers.

Nanmangalam Reserve Forest

Nanmangalam Reserve Forest is a protected forest located in the southern part of Chennai, about 24 km from the city centre. It is located at Medavakkam on Velachery High Road between Velachery and Tambaram. The reserve forest has an area of 320 hectares. However, the total area of the forest is 2,400 hectares.

The forest is popular among bird watchers and is home to about 85 species of birds. Red-wattled lapwing, crested honey buzzard, grey partridge, coucal, Indian eagle-owl, white-breasted kingfisher, pied kingfisher, southern bush lark and red-whiskered bulbul are commonly seen in the area.The 320-hectare Nanmangalam Reserved Forest, located about 10 km from Velachery, is a scrubland around an abandoned granite quarry and is home to some of the rare territorial orchids, according to a recent study.The state forest department has entrusted the work of data collection in this small forest area to Care Earth, a bio-diversity research organisation. Located near Medavakkam, a rapidly developing residential locality, the forest needs immediate fencing to protect it from encroachment and to curtail any non-forestry activity there, the study says.The neighbourhood of Nanmangalam is one of the 163 notified areas (megalithic sites) in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary

Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary is a bird sanctuary in Nellore district, Andhra Pradesh, India, near the village of Nelapattu. It has an area of 458.92 hectares. It is an important breeding site for spot-billed pelicans (Pelecanus philippensis).Nelapattu has two major plant communities, Barringtonia swamp forests and southern dry evergreen scrub.

Southern dry evergreen scrub covers most of the sanctuary, including the 288 hectares of Kalluru Reserved Forest and 88 hectares of unreserved forest. The dominant tree and shrub species are Manilkara hexandra, Maba buxifolia, Memecylon edule, Buchanania angustifolia, Zizyphus xylopyrus, and others.The Barringtonia swamp forests are found in the 83-ha Nelapattu tank. The predominant tree species is Barringtonia acutangula (Hijal). This tree also grows in uplands, but the tree species found at Nelapattu can grow in flooded conditions lasting for 5 to 7 months. The saplings can survive total submersion during the long duration of flooding.About 189 bird species can be found at Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, 50 of which are migratory. In addition to the spot-billed pelican, it is an important breeding site for white ibis, openbill stork, night heron, and little cormorant. Other migratory water birds that visit the sanctuary include pintail, common teal, dabchick, shoveler, coot, spot-bill duck, grey heron, darter, black-winged stilt, and garganey gadwall.

Pallikaranai wetland

Pallikaranai wetland is a freshwater marsh in the city of Chennai, India. It is situated adjacent to the Bay of Bengal, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of the city centre, and has a geographical area of 80 square kilometres (31 sq mi). Pallikaranai marshland is the only surviving wetland ecosystem of the city and is among the few and last remaining natural wetlands of South India. It is one of the 94 identified wetlands under National Wetland Conservation and Management Programme (NWCMP) operationalised by the Government of India in 1985–86 and one of the three in the state of Tamil Nadu, the other two being Point Calimere and Kazhuveli. It is also one of the prioritised wetlands of Tamil Nadu. The topography of the swamp is such that it always retains some storage, thus forming an aquatic ecosystem. A project on 'Inland Wetlands of India' commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India had prioritised Pallikaranai marsh as one of the most significant wetlands of the country. The marsh contains several rare or endangered and threatened species and acts as a forage and breeding ground for thousands of migratory birds from various places within and outside the country. The number of bird species sighted in the wetland is significantly higher than the number at Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary.Indiscriminate dumping of toxic solid waste along the road, discharge of sewage, and construction of buildings, railway stations and a new road to connect Old Mahabhalipuram Road and Pallavaram have shrunk the wetland to a great extent. In 2007, as an effort to protect the remaining wetland from shrinking further, the undeveloped areas in the region were notified as a reserve forest. A 2018 study showed that about 60 percent of the native species in the wetland, including hoorahgrass (Fimbristylis), dwarf copperleaf or ponnanganni keerai (Alternanthera sessilis), floating lace plant or kottikizhangu (Aponogeton natans), wild paddy (Oryza rufipogon), crested floating heart (Nymphoides), and nut grass (Cyperus), have been replaced by invasive species.

Wildlife of India

India is home to a variety of animals. Apart from a handful of domesticated animals, such as cows, water buffaloes, goats, chickens, and both Bactrian and Dromedary camels, India has a wide variety of animals native to

the country. It is home to Bengal and Indochinese tigers, Asiatic lions, Indian and Indochinese leopards, snow leopards, clouded leopards, various species of Deer, including Chital, Hangul, Barasingha; the Indian Elephant, the Great Indian Rhinoceros, and many others. The region's diverse wildlife is preserved in more than 120 national parks, 18 Bio-reserves and more than 500 wildlife sanctuaries across the country. India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and contains four of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots – the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas, Indo-Burma and Sunda Land. Wildlife management is essential to preserve the rare and endangered endemic species. India is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries. According to one study, India along with the other 16 megadiverse countries is home to about 60-70% of the world's biodiversity. India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian (bird), 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species.Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, of which India originally was a part. 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 Asian elephant, the Asiatic lion, Bengal tiger, Indian rhinoceros, mugger crocodile, and 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 515 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 18 biosphere reserves, 10 of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 26 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.

The peepul tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment. The varied and rich wildlife of India has had a profound impact on the region's popular culture. The wildlife has also been 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".

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