Hotspot of Biodiversity (Western Ghats)
The Western Ghats and the central belt lying to the west of it, is a region of very high
rainfall and is characterized by evergreen vegetation, its flora and fauna being a kin to the evergreen rain forest of north-eastern India. Among the macaques the lion tailed (Macaca silenus) is one of the world’s most endangered primates, surviving in the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats of south India, its total population is estimated to be about 800 only.
In the langur group, the nilgiri ‘Iangur’ (Presbvtis johni) is a multihabitat species occurring in addition to the shoals, in the temperate evergreen forests above 1700 m altitude in the Western Ghats. A number of climbing animals have evolved gliding mechanisms and are particularly characteristic of these forests. Among these are the flying squirrels. The other characteristic species of the Western Ghats are the Nilgiri mongoose, the stripnecked mongoose, the malabar civet and the spiny mouse.
The flora and fauna of these evergreen regions have not been fully explored. Being a store house of a large variety of plants and animals, these forests represent one of the
richest gene pool resources of flora and fauna in the country. Though a large number of such forests have not been destroyed for various plantation crops like rubber, cocoa, coffee etc., whatever virgin forests remain have to be specially protected as in the Silent Valley of Kerala or the rich orchid belt of the north-eastern Himalayas in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.