Sikkim Wildlife and Biodiversity

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Chapter 2
WILDLIFE & BIODIVERSITY
Biodiversity at a Glance
India is recognized as one of the 12 mega diversity centres of the world. Out of the 18 Biodiversity hot-spots in the world, India owns 2, namely the Western Ghats and the Eastern Himalayas. Sikkim covering just 0.2 % of the geographical area of the country has tremendous biodiversity and has been identified as one of the HOT-SPOT in the Eastern Himalayas. There are 10 bio-geographic zones & 25 biotic provinces--- which have 16 major forests types & > 200 sub types as per (Champion & Seth 1968). Sikkim falls under Himalayan (2) Bio-geographic zone & Central Himalaya (2c) biotic province----having about 9 types of forests types (Champion & Seth). The State is endowed with rich floral and faunal diversity. Species wise, the State harbors over 4500 flowering plants, 550 Orchids, 36 Rhododendrons, 16 Conifers, 28 Bamboos, 362 Ferns and its allies, 9 Tree Ferns, 30 Primulas, 11 Oaks, over 424 Medicinal plants, 144+ mammals, 550 Birds, 48 Fishes and over 600 Butterflies. While these figures are still not absolute, it may be kept in mind that this is only the mega-fauna and flora. The tremendous diversity of insects like beetles and moths as well as a host of other life forms is yet to be enumerated. Most of the high altitude medicinal plants are rare and endangered species. Sikkim also has 28 Mountains/Peaks, more than 38 Glaciers, 227 high altitude lakes/wetlands and over 104 rivers and streams. Nature has been particularly generous in her gift of sylvan treasures to the state of Sikkim. Luxuriant forest, abound in all part of state and variety of medicinal plants, herbs, shrubs, bamboos and trees growing in state is truly rich. In the forest, there are number of plants whose medicinal values have been well recognized by local people as well as by different pharmaceutical, insecticidal and perfumery sectors. Medicinal plants ought to be given the status of a “National Resources” because their sustained availability is essential to sustain one of the world’s oldest medicinal traditions, a priceless legacy of the Indian people. The local inhabitants for treatment of various ailments use numerous herbal remedies. Further more, modern medicines owes to the flora of these mountains. Many inhabitants for treatment of various ailments use numerous herbal remedies. Many species of Himalayan origin have revolutionized the allopathic systems of medicine. (The Medicinal Plant found in Sikkim is listed in Annexure II) ECOREGIONS

Sikkim is a land of vast variation in altitude within very short distances ranging from around 300m to 8598m. Elevation plays a prime role in fashioning the ecoregions of the state. This is evident from the presence of Sal Shorea robusta forests in the Rangit Valley in the south to the temperate fir forests in the north, beyond which lie the trans-Himalayas and cold desert of the Tibetan plateau. Broadly speaking there are five altitudinal zones of vegetation. They are not clear-cut at their boundaries but merge into one another, often showing considerable local encroachments and recessions above and below the line depending upon physical configuration and exposure of the terrain and the resulting ecological factors. Chapter 2 Wildlife & Biodiversity

The Tropical ecoregion extends roughly from the foothills of the outer Himalayas to an altitude of about 1200m. It contains steep sided valleys and gorges with well-drained flanking slopes. Various species of orchids, Rhaphidophora; wild banana, Pandanus; Nettles and giant bamboo are characteristic. The Rangit Valley Sal Shorea robusta in this region shows a unique association with the Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii. In patches of protected forest it is possible to see the weak Sal being slowly dominated by the Pine. These patches are however relatively poor in bird life. Lowland forests of Sikkim are home to several endangered species of birds like the Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Great Indian...
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