As one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, India is located in a rich variety of ecosystems and geographic landscapes. In terms of area, India is the seventh largest country in the world and occupies 2.4 percent of the world’s land. Furthermore, it contains over seven percent of all recorded species of plants and animals- many uniquely endemic to this subcontinental country. India’s diverse geography and climactic conditions have resulted in a variety of ecosystems such as hot and cold deserts, highlands, tropical and temperate forests, grasslands, swamplands, mangroves and plains to name a few. No wonder then, that the country has four of the 34 globally recognized biodiversity hotspots.
This unique geography and geology also strongly influences its climate. Average yearly temperatures in the country are around 25 degrees Celsius. The same phenomenon also makes the country’s mainland extremely hot during the summers which occur between the months of March and May. Heatwaves occur frequently with temperatures reached between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius in some areas. Similarly, there has been an increase in irregular cold waves as well, where temperatures drop significantly below the recorded average.
These temperature fluctuations have led to illnesses and loss of human lives. Additionally, there is also an economic damage, specifically from agricultural crops. Outside of the human bubble, it affects various delicately balanced ecosystems, causing irreversible damage to the environment. Mass deforestation, unchecked hunting and poaching, industrialization and pollution are just some of the factors that have led many flora and fauna in the country to be on the an endangered list, or worse the brink of extinction. Various environmental organizations along with government initiatives have been helping to further the efforts in conserving India’s rich biodiversity.
One example is the work of Project Tiger, aimed at protecting India’s national animal, the Bengal Tiger. From an estimated population of over a hundred thousand Sher Khans roaming the jungles in the early nineteenth century, the tiger population dropped to just over 1,800 by the 1970s. This alarming figure resulted in one of the first and most successful conservation programs. By 2018, there was a significant improvement in the number of tigers across the country.
While this, along with the country's general commitment to conserving wildlife is commendable, India faces the challenge that the rest of the world is - to feed and grow its population sustainably. With increasing urbanization and rising disposable incomes, about 1.3 billion people's livelihoods could impact surroundings in a big way. With more awareness, especially among younger Indians who make up the largest share of the population, influence can be made in a positive way in living symbiotically with the environment.
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In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Environment of India".