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India and Its Biodiversity: Biodiversity Hotspot

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Eastern Himalayas form a part of the Himalayan global biodiversity hotspot.

This region is exceptionally rich in diversity and endemism.

It comprises of parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, Arunanchal Pradesh and extends up to Burma.

This region has an estimated 9000 plant species, out of which 3500 are endemic.

In the Indian portion of the Eastern Himalaya, we find 5800 plant species, and approximately 2000 of these 5800 are endemic.

It houses wild relatives of plants of economic significance, such as rice, banana, citrus, ginger, chilli, jute and sugarcane.

The Western Ghats form a part of Western Ghats-Sri Lanka global biodiversity hotspot.

They run parallel to the west coast of India and run across the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Locally they are also known as the Sahyadris.

They harbour 7388 species of flowering plants. Out of these 7388 species, 5584 species are indigenous.

Out of the 5584 indigenous species of plants, 2242 species are endemic to India and 1261 are endemic to the Western Ghats endemics.

The Western Ghats is also rich among the invertebrate groups. We find here:

  • About 350 ant species, 20% of which are endemic to this region.
  • 330 butterfly species, 11% of which are endemic to this region.
  • 174 odonate species that includes dragonflies and damselflies, 40% of which are endemic to this region.
  • 269 mollusc species that includes land snails, 76% of which are endemic to this region.

The fish fauna of the Western Ghats spans around 288 species, 41% of which are endemic to this region.

The amphibian fauna of this region consists of 220 species, of which 78% are endemic.

62% of the 225 described species of reptiles found here, are endemic to this region.

Over 500 species of birds and 120 species of mammals are also known from this region.

The Western Ghats region harbours the largest global populations of the Asian elephants and possibly of other mammals such as the tiger, dhole and gaur.

Wild relatives of cultivated plants are also found here, including pepper, cardamom, mango, jackfruit and sandal.

Thirty nine sites of the Western Ghats in the States of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012, due to their outstanding universal value and high levels of endemism

The North-East forms a part of Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot.

Some parts of the north-eastern region of India, excluding the Himalayan region, form a part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot.

It is centred on the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, and comprises of Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and parts of Southern China.

More than 60% of the bird species found in India have been recorded in the North-East.

It harbours 35 endemic reptilian species including two genera of lizards and two turtle species.

Out of 341 Indian amphibian species, at least 68 species are known to occur in the North-East. 20 out of the 68 are endemic.

It is enriched with 13,500 vascular plant species, of which about 7000 (52%) are endemic to North-East.

74 out of the 1277 bird species found in Indo-Burma are endemic to North-East.

71 of the 430 mammal species in the hotspot are endemic to this region.

189 of the 519 non-marine reptile species are endemic to this region.

139 of the 323 amphibian species are endemic to the hotspot.

It also supports a high diversity of freshwater turtles.

It also accounts for about 10% of the fish fauna in the world. 566 out of the 1262 documented fish fauna species are endemic to this region.

Nicobar Islands are a part of the Sundaland global biodiversity hotspot.

Mangrove forests are found in these islands.

3500 plant species are found in the Andaman and Nicobar group of islands.

Out of these 3500 species, 422 of floral genera and 648 species are endemic to the Nicobar Island.

Out of the 120 pteridophyte species of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 50% are from Great Nicobar Island alone.

A total of 110 wild orchids are reported from these islands, of which 19 genera, with 25 species, are endemic.

The Malayan box turtle, the Sunbeam snake, the Saltwater crocodile and the Reticulated python are found in the Southern Nicobar group, besides several species of Pit viper in the central Nicobars.

15 reptile species are reported to be endemic to the Nicobars.

Four species of marine turtle, the Leatherback turtle, Hawksbill turtle, Green sea turtle and the Olive ridley turtle feed and nest around the Andaman and Nicobars. The nesting population of Leatherbacks in the Nicobars is one of the last four colonies that exceed 1000 individuals in the Indo-Pacific and hence has global significance.


  • Cape Floristic Region
  • Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa
  • Eastern Afromontane
  • Guinean Forests of West Africa
  • Horn of Africa
  • Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands
  • Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany
  • Succulent Karoo


  • East Melanesian Islands
  • Himalaya
  • Indo-Burma
  • Japan
  • Mountains of Southwest China
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Philippines
  • Polynesia-Micronesia
  • Southwest Australia
  • Forests of Eastern Australia (new)
  • Sundaland
  • Wallacea
  • Western Ghats and Sri Lanka

Europe and Central Asia

  • Caucasus
  • Irano-Anatolian
  • Mediterranean Basin
  • Mountains of Central Asia

North and Central America

  • California Floristic Province
  • Caribbean Islands
  • Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands
  • Mesoamerica

South America

  • Atlantic Forest
  • Cerrado
  • Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests
  • Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena
  • Tropical Andes