Environment and geography of India - Statistics & Facts

Published by Sanika Diwanji, May 31, 2019
As one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, India boasts of a rich variety of ecosystems and geographic landscapes. By area, India ranks as the seventh largest country in the world and occupies 2.4 percent of the world’s land area. However, 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 of the country also strongly influences its climate. The 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. In 2018, there were over 484 heat waves across the country and temperatures reached above 40 degrees Celsius. Similarly, there has been an increase in irregular cold waves in the country where the temperatures drop significantly below the recorded average.

Such temperature fluctuations have led to loss of human lives and damage to agricultural crops. This also affects the rich endemic biodiversity and can cause 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 brink of extinction today. As of 2018, India had approximately 93 mammal species under threat of extinction. Even then, various environmental organizations along with government initiatives have been helping to further the efforts in conserving India’s rich biodiversity.

One of the examples that can be cited in this regard is the work of Project Tiger, a conservation program aimed at protecting India’s national animal, the Bengal Tiger. From an estimated population of over a hundred thousand tigers roaming the Indian jungles in the early nineteenth century, the tiger population had dropped to just over 1,800 by the 1970s. This alarming figure resulted in one of the first and till date, the most successful conservation programs. As of 2014, there were around 2,226 tigers in India and many other environmentalist movements have been underway to revive indigenous species of plants and animals.

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