Flora And Fauna Of Kerala

The southernmost Indian state, Kerala, is known for its scenic beauty and green ambience. The green rich landscape of this destination also blessed with a wide range of flora and fauna. The natural habitat of the state makes it a haven for different animal and bird species. The landscape of Kerala encompasses highland deciduous, evergreen forests and partially evergreen forests in different parts of the state. Besides, this destination has humid tropical climate due its unique terrain and elevation. These unique features of Kerala make it the land of highly important biodiversity in the world. Explore the exotic flora and fauna of the state through Karmic. Log on our website to get an idea about the different plants and animals in the state.

Flora And Fauna Of Kerala

A State With Natural Forests

The major biodiversity area of Kerala lies in the middle of the evergreen forests particularly in the eastern districts of the state. Some of the coastal areas of this state also occupy such biodiversity tracts. Since most of the regions in this part are under cultivation, not much wildlife registered at the coastal areas. Kerala has more than 9000 sq. km of natural forests out of which nearly 7500 sq km comes under the non-plantation area. Approximately 3400 sq. km area covers both wet evergreen and semi evergreen forests. Nearly 100 sq km areas of this state cover dry deciduous forests while the moist tropical region sprawled in an area of almost 4000 sq. km.

Kerala is also famous for Shola forests and nearly 24% of the area of this state is covered by such forests. It can be seen mainly at the high elevated areas of the state. There are two wetland areas in the state, Vembanad-Kol and Lake Sasthamkotta. Both of them are considered to be listed in the famous Ramsar Convention. Above all, Kerala has several protected areas including the well known Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Total Forest Area11521.813 Sq.Km
Percentage of forest area to the total area of the state29.65 %
Reserved Forests9195.735 Sq.Km
Proposed Reserve291.575 Sq.Km
Vested Forests & Ecologically Fragile Lands1905.476 Sq.Km
Others129.027
TOTAL11521.813 Sq.Km

Flora

The windward mountain regions situated to the eastern part of Kerala covers moist and tropical dry forests. It is also a part of Western Ghats and famous for its rich flora including anjili, mullumurikku, sonokeling (Indian Rosewood) and Cassia. With more than thousand species of trees, this area has a dense cover. Some of the common flora in this region includes bamboo, palm, wild cardamom, black pepper and Vetiver Grass with amazing aroma.

Fauna

Just like its flora, Kerala is also famous for its rich fauna.

Mammals

This South Indian state is blessed with a wide array of mammals such as Asian Elephant, leopard, Bengal Tiger and Grizzleed Giant Squirrel. The Silent Valley is a famous national park in the state which is located in the Kundali Hills. It houses many endangered species such as Indian Bison, Indian Sloth bear, Lion tailed Macaque etc. Some of the common mammal species registered in Kerala is Indian Porcupine, Flying Squirrel, Swamp Lynx, Common Palm Civet, boar and some species of monkeys.

Reptiles

Kerala is home to a wide range of reptiles and some of the common reptiles registered in this state include King cobra, python, viper, crocodiles and species of turtles.

Avians

Kerala is a paradise for birdwatchers because of the wide range of bird species available in the state. This scenic destination is blessed with nearly 453 species of birds. You can easily watch them by planning a walking tour through the popular bird sanctuaries in Kerala. Some of the avian species that you can spot in these sanctuaries include the Great Hornbill (Zoological Name- Buceros bicornis), are Oriental Bay Owl, Kingfisher, Woodpecker, Sri Lanka Frogmouth (Zoological Name- Batrachostomus moniliger), Jungle Fowl, Peafowl, Hill Mayna, Indian Cormorant, Black hooded Oriole, Bulbul (Zoological Name- Pycnnotidae), Alexandrine Parakeet and Black Drongoes, You can also see some species of ducks in this state.

Aquatic Species

With numerous rivers, lakes, sea and ponds, Kerala is rich in aquatic species. The backwaters of the state have some freshwater fish. A stinging fish named Kadu is also seen in it.   A brackish water species named choottachi is also registered in this state. In addition, many aquatic species are natives of the lakes and waterways of Kerala.

Preservation Of Flora And Fauna

Although Kerala is a small Indian state, it boasts exotic species of flora and fauna. However, unplanned urbanization depletes the rich forest reserve of the state. After realizing the possible repercussions of this situation, the government announced several wildlife sanctuaries and national parks for the preservation of the flora and fauna. Some of the popular wildlife sanctuaries in the state are Periyar Wildlife sanctuary, Neyyar wildlife sanctuary, Peppara Sanctuary, Thattekad Bird Sanctuary and Aralam wildlife sanctuary. The two national parks in the state are Eravikulam National Park and Silent Valley National Park.

Status of Flora ( Published By ENVIS Centre: Kerala State of Environment and Related Issues )

The floral diversity of Kerala can be categorized into three.

  • Wild and Indigenous
  • Indigenous and Cultivated
  • Exotic, yet cultivated or wild

Wild and indigenous floral elements are found in natural forests and other natural ecosystems. They offer a variety of products and services to mankind, including medicines and non wood forest produces. The natural forests are also rich in different types of traditionally used wood items.

Indigenous and cultivated plant varieties were once common in our agricultural fields and homesteads. These areas were also rich with a variety of indigenous rice, coconut, areca nut, pepper, ginger, turmeric, tapioca, plantains etc. In the last few decades many of these varieties have been neglected or ignored with the introduction of high-yielding hybrid varieties. In addition to this weeds and pests introduced into the state along with exotic crops replaced many indigenous varieties. Thus, the agrobiodiversity in the state has become a mixture of both indigenous and exotic species.

Flora of Kerala comprises of a total of 11,840 taxa of plants (SoE,2007). Among them, angiosperms comprises the dominant group, composed of 4968 taxa, of which about 900 are those endemic to Western Ghats. Among the Western Ghats endemics, 252 taxa are those confined to Kerala State.The flora comprises of 866 species of algae, 4800 species of fungi, 520 species of lichens, 350 species of bryophytes, 332 species of pteridophytes, 4 species of gymnosperms and 4968 species of angiosperms or flowering plants. Habitat wise, algal species are mostly confined to aquatic or damp conditions whereas the other plant groups in the State ate mostly terrestrial in habit. Forest areas being well protected.

Habit or life form-wise, there are herbs, shrubs, trees, lianas, epiphytes, lithophytes, saprophytes, etc. within the plant kingdom. Based on this the habitats are also different for different species. Table gives the details of the representation of different plant groups in the flora of Kerala. Apart from this there are hundreds of cultivated species either on plantations or crop levels or as garden plants, ornamentals, etc. There are also 850 species and varieties of cultivars growing the State with their origin in mostly tropical parts of the globe. Due to various reasons, many of them are in various threat categories of IUCN Red List of flora and fauna (2004), prepared at global level.

Total Number of Plant Taxa Belonging to Different Groups Recorded from Kerala

Sl.NoPlant GroupsNo. of Taxa 
1Algae866
2Fungi4800
3Lichens520
4Bryophytes350
5Pteridophytes332
6Gymnosperms4
7Angiosperms   4968
 Total11,840

Wildlife Sanctuaries Of Kerala

  • Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Peechi – Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Thattekkadu Bird Sanctuary
  • Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chimmony Wild life Sanctuary
  • Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary
  • Karimpuzha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kurinjimala Sanctuary
  • Choolannur Pea Fowl Sanctuary
  • Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary

National Parks

  • Eravikulam National Park
  • Silent Valley National Park
  • Pampadum Shola National Park
  • Mathikettan Shola National Park
  • Anamudi Shola National Park

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