Nov 16 – Jan 17

Wildlife of Karnataka

The state of Karnataka in South India has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 38720 km2 which constitutes 20.19% of the total geographical area of the state. These forests support 25% of the elephant population and 20% of the tiger population of India. Many regions of Karnataka are still unexplored and new species of flora and fauna are still found. The Western Ghats mountains in the westernregion of  Karnataka are a biodiversity hotspot. Two sub-clusters of the Western Ghats, Talacauvery and Kudremukh in Karnataka, are in a tentative list of sites that could be designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks which fall outside these sub-clusters were included in the Nilgiri biosphere reserve in 1986, a UNESCO designation. BR hills or Biligiriranga Hills in Karnataka is a place where Eastern Ghats meets Western Ghats. The state bird and state animal of Karnataka are Indian roller and the Indian elephant respectively. The state tree and state flower are sandalwood (Santalum album) and lotus respectively. Karnataka is home to 406+ tigers (around 12% of tigers in world).

National parks in Karnataka

Karnataka has five national parks.

Anshi National Park

This park is present in the Uttara Kannada district and spreads over an area of 250 km2. The altitude varies from 27 metres (89 ft) to 927 metres (3,041 ft), and temperatures from 15 °C to 35 °C. Average annual rainfall is about 4,700 millimetres (185 in) .

Calophyllum tomentosa, Calophyllumwightianum, Garcina cambogia, Garcina morealla, Knema

attenuata, Hopea wightiana, Tetrameles nudiflora, Alstonia scholaris, Flacourtia montana,Machilis macarantha, Carallia brachiata, Artocarpus hirsutus, Artocarpus lacoocha and Cinnamomum zeylanicum.

Bandipur National Park

It is situated within Chamarajanagar district covering an area of over 800 km2 and adjoins the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In 1973, Bandipur became one of the first of India’s tiger reserves and became a part of Project Tiger. In 1974, intention was declared under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act to notify it as a national park.

Among the 230 species of birds identified here, some of the important groups include herons, storks, egrets, ducks, kites, eagles, falcons, quails, partridges, wildfowl, lapwings, sandpipers, pigeons, doves, parakeets, cuckoos, owls, nightjars, swifts,kingfishers, bee-eaters and munias. Reptiles like marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris),  Indian pond terrapin, starred tortoise (Geochelone elegans), common Indian monitor (Varanus bengalensis), Indian chameleon (Chamaeleo zeylanicus), skinks (Mabuya spp.), geckos (Hemidactylus), common rat snake (Ptyas mucosus), Indian cobra (Naja naja), Russell’s viper (Daboia russelli), common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), Indian python (Python molurus), checkered keelback, green whip snake, common Indian bronzeback (Dendrelaphis tristis) and trinket snake (Elaphe helena) are found here.

Bannerughatta National Park

It is located in Bengaluru district and covers over 115 km2 of area. Altitude varies from 740 metres (2,428 ft) to 1,034 metres (3,392 ft), temperature from 20° to 35 °C and the average annual rainfall is 700 millimetres (28 in).

Kudremukh National Park

Spread over an area of 600.32 km2 it encompasses regions in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur. Altitude varies from 134 metres (440 ft) to 1,892 metres (6,207 ft). The park has a pleasant climate, with temperatures ranging from 17° to 28 °C. Annual rainfall varies from 1,778 mm(70 in) to 6,350 mm (250 in), with an average of 4,000 mm (157 in). The rivers Nethravati, Tunga and Bhadra are believed to originate here at Ganga Moola.

macaque, common langur, sloth bear, gaur, sambar, spotted deer, barking deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Indian giant flying squirrel, Indian crested porcupine and mongoose. Reptiles are represented by snakes and tortoises. Bird species in the park include the Malabar trogon, great hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush and imperial pigeon.

Nagarahole National Park

Also known as Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarahole) National Park gets its name from the Nagara Hole (Snake River in Kannada) which runs eastwards through its centre. Nagarahole river flows through the park before it joins the Kabini river that also acts as a boundary between Nagarahole and Bandipur. The park covers an area of about 575 km2. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala adjoins to the Southeast.

regenerating dry deciduous forests. The west region of the park contains tropical moist and semi-evergreen forests. Interspersed with these forests are swampy fallows called hadlus, which are dominated by grasses and are favoured grazing areas of many wild herbivores.

indicus), gaur (Bos gaurus), sambar (Cervus unicolor), chital or spotted deer or axis deer (Axis axis), muntjac or barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), chevrotain or mouse deer (Moschiola indica), four horned antelope (Tetracerus quadricornis), giant fruit bat (Pteropus giganteus), Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), Indian leopard (Panthera pardus), leopard cat (Felis bengalensis), jungle cat (Felis chaus), rusty spotted cat (Felis rubiginosa), common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), dhole or Asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus) and flying fox (Pteropus giganteus), the largest Indian bat. Among the 300 species of birds identified in this park include herons, storks, egrets, ducks, kites, eagles, falcons, partridges, quails, peafowl, owls, lapwings, sandpipers, pigeons, doves, parakeets, cuckoos, nightjars, swifts, kingfishers, bee-eaters, barbets, swallows, larks, woodpeckers, shrikes and orioles. Reptiles include marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), Indian pond terrapin, star tortoise, common Indian monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis), forest calotes, southern green calotes, skinks (Mabuya spp.), geckos, spectacled cobra, Russell’s viper, common krait, Indian python(Python molurus), checkered keelback, green whip snake, common Indian bronzeback, flying snake, wolf snake and trinket snake.

Wildlife sanctuaries

Karnataka also has the following 19 wildlife sanctuaries:

•Adichunchanagiri Wildlife Sanctuary: This is located in Mandya district and is spread over 0.88 km2 (0.34 mi2). This was created mainly for the conservation of peacocks. It also houses nearly 250 species of birds.

Species of mammals include elephants, tigers, leopards, sloth bear, gaur, barking deer and sambar. Among the 215 species of birds found here include Nilgiri wood pigeon, Malabar whistling thrush, yellow-throated bulbul, peregrine falcon, rufous-bellied hawk-eagle. And also an endangered amphibian, Icthyophis ghytinosus has been reported in this sanctuary.

tomentosa and Ochlandra rheedii. Mammals include elephant,tiger, slender loris, Nilgiri marten and bonnet macaque. Also around 230 species of birds have been observed here over the years. Bird species include great pied hornbill, Malabar trogon and Nilgiri blackbird.

This sanctuary was created mainly for the  conservation of blackbucks. This sanctuary is also a habitat for the endangered great Indian bustard.

Bird sanctuaries


Despite the best efforts of conservation activists, poaching remains one of the serious problems affecting the flora and fauna in the state. Between the years 1997 to 2001, a total of 98 elephants have succumbed to poaching in Karnataka. Poaching has also affected the breeding of turtles like olive ridley on the beaches of Karnataka as well as otters on the river banks. Tigers are also another species that are threatened to brink of extinction by poachers.  Sandalwood, famed for its  sculptures and its aroma is frequently poached out of the forests of  Karnataka. Teakwood, famed for the furniture is another species of flora affected by this problem. Staff-shortage, lack of adequate funds and unscientific anti-poaching camps are some of the reasons quoted for continued poaching activities. Travellers runs in these snake’s forest they have to travel in glass covered buses so that traveler can escape from snake fall over these running buses.

Habitat destruction

Some of the activities that are causing a destruction of habitat of flora and fauna in Karnataka are:

An example is the construction of the Linganamakki reservoir in Shimoga district that caused the extinction of the grass, Hubbardia heptaneuron.

Human–wildlife conflict

Due to the loss of habitat, more and more species of fauna have started to venture into human habitation causing a conflict between humans and fauna.

A typical species affected by this is the elephant which ventures out of the forest into human cultivations  thereby eating or destroying the crops. In some cases, the elephants have also caused human deaths like an incident that happened in Hassan district where a villager was trampled to death. Precautionary measures (sometimes illegally) taken up by humans to prevent such mishaps like electric fencing have also led to disastrous consequences like electrocution of fauna.


Release of industrial waste and human effluents into rivers have caused significant damages to species that reside in rivers and riverbanks. Air pollution is also a significant cause of concern in metros like Bangalore where it has been found that air pollution is discolouring foliage including those of ornamental plants.

A comparison of the lichen flora of the garden Lal Bagh in Bangalore has revealed that 18 of the 22 species noted in 1980 were no longer present in 1997. Pollution in rivers like Kabini, Kaveri and Ghataprabha has caused sharp reduction in populations of bird species, including beneficial insectivorous birds like drongos, as well as honeybees.

Invasive new species

Introduction of new species into a habitat has caused serious consequences to the existing species of flora and fauna. A typical example is the introduction of the African catfish (Clariasgariepinus) in the lakes and rivers of Karnataka. This is a carnivorous fish and has caused serious damage to the indigenous fauna living in those lakes and rivers.[19] Weeds like Eupatorium,Lantana and Parthenium have invaded large tracts of land causing destruction. An increase in Eupatorium is attributed as one of the causes for the spread of the deadly Kyasanur forest disease (which has a morbidity rate of 10%) among humans since it harbors tick populations that are vectors for this disease.

Eucalyptus plantations in the Ranibennur blackbuck sanctuary has seriously harmed the extremely rare great Indian bustard.

Conservation efforts

Various conservation activities are in progress to protect the biodiversity present in Karnataka. These activities are mostly done by the Forest Department of the State of Karnataka and other voluntary organisations.

Relocation of human population

The presence of human habitation within the core area of reserved forests poses many problems like man–animal conflict and destruction of habitat due to agriculture and cattle grazing. Systematic efforts have been made to relocate some of this population into proper zones outside the protected area. An example is the relocation of some villagers from Bhagawathi and Nassehalla habitations within the Kudremukh National Park to safer regions outside it.

Usage of technology

New scientific methods are being used to protect the flora and fauna. Some of these are:

Staff empowerment

It is highly important to keep up the morale of forest wardens and other staff members involved in anti-poaching  activities and field trips. It is also necessary to keep them up-to-date on the technology and wildlife related laws. The following steps were implemented to address this issue:

Recently discovered species

Many areas of Karnataka, especially in the forests of Malnad region are unexplored and new species of flora and fauna are discovered periodically. Some of the new species of flora discovered in Karnataka include Paracautleya bhatii (a ginger) and Isachne veldkampii (a grass), both of which were discovered near Manipal in Udupi district. Two species of algae, Cosmarium bourrellyi and Cosmarium desikacharyi were discovered in a paddy field in Belgaum. Other new species of flora discovered in Karnataka include Isoetes  udupiensis  (a flowering plant) and Pisolithus indicus (a fungus).

Some of the new species of fauna discovered include two species of ants, Dilobocondyla bangalorica which was discovered on the campus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Discothyrea sringerensis which was discovered near Sringeri.

Three new species of frogs; Philautus luteolus, Philautus tuberohumerus and Nyctibatrachus petraeus have been discovered in Karnataka.Explorations in the Sharavathi river have yielded new fish species like Batasio sharavatiensis (a bagrid catfish), Schistura nagodiensis and Schistura sharavathiensis. Another fish species, Puntius coorgensis has been discovered near Bhagamandala in the Kaveri river.

Some other species of fauna discovered in Karnataka include two species of whiteflies, Distinctaleyrodes setosus and Aleurocanthus arecae and a caecilian, Gegeneophis madhavai. Explorations in the soil around the Linganamakki reservoir has revealed eleven new  species of earthworms.

Endangered species

Shorea roxburghii, an endangered rainforest tree found in Karnataka

Karnataka is the home of few critically endangered species of flora that include evergreen trees like

Dipterocarpus bourdilloni, Hopea erosa and Hopea jacobi, Croton lawianus (a small tree) and Pinnatella limbata (a type of moss).

Some of the critically endangered species of fauna found in Karnataka include Gyps indicus (the Indian vulture) and two species of frogs, Indirana gundia (found only in Gundia range, Sakleshpur) and Micrixalus kottigeharensis (found only near Kottigehara, Chikkamagaluru district).

Some of the endangered species of flora include evergreen trees like Cynometra bourdillonii,

Cynometra travancorica, Hopea glabra, Hopea parviflora, Hopea ponga,Hopea racophloea, Hopea

wightiana, Shorea roxburghii  and Tarenna agumbensis and flowering plants like Glochidion pauciflorum,Glochidion tomentosum, Ixora lawsoni and Syzygium stocksii.

Other endangered trees found in Karnataka include Isonandra stocksii, Kingiodendron pinnatum, Maesa velutina, Myristica magnifica, Rapanea striata and Xylosma latifolium.

Endangered species of fauna found in Karnataka include the Bengal tiger, Indian elephant, lion-tailed macaque, olive ridley turtle and dhole, the Indian wild dog. Many endangered species of amphibians are found here including frogs, Indirana brachytarsus, Microhyla sholigari, Minervarya sahyadris, Nyctibatrachus aliciae, Nyctibatrachus hussaini, Nyctibatrachus sanctipalustris, Philautus charius, Philautus wynaadensis, Ramanella mormorata andRhacophorus lateralis and a toad, Bufo beddomii. Other endangered species of fauna include Hipposideros hypophyllus (the Kolar leaf-nosed bat) andPseudomulleria dalyi (a mollusc).

Article Source; Wikipedia