Karnataka is a land of diverse flora and fauna. About 22.61% of Karnataka’s geographical area is covered under forests. The state is home to a large variety of fauna. Many of the fauna species found in the state are recognized as endangered species.
The mesmerising wildlife of Karnataka is one of the main attractions for tourists visiting the state.
Diversity of fauna in Karnataka
Karnataka has a wide variety of habitats that abound with different species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fishes and insects. It is one of the richest states in India in terms of wildlife. The exotic fauna of Karnataka varies from the grand elephant to the magnificent tiger. The forests of Karnataka are home to 25% of the elephant population and 10% of the tiger population found in India.
Mammals: The mountain ranges of Western Ghats are among the 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world. They serve as significant wildlife corridors in the state. They are home to unique animal species such as the Indian giant squirrel, the Malabar large spotted civet, the Indian flying fox, the lion tailed macaque, and innumerable other species of animals.
Karnataka has several species of striking mammals including the sloth bears, Indian elephant, Asiatic elephant, Bengal tiger, wild boars, gaurs, black panthers, big Indian cats, Asiatic wild dogs, Indian leopard, small Indian civet, Indian flying fox, Indian giant squirrel, spotted deer, Indian pangolin, golden jackal, four horned Antelope, Ruddy mongoose, common langur, striped hyena, common palm civet and sambar.
Birds: The state is a paradise for bird lovers and bird watchers. It has several natural habitats and bird sanctuaries where numerous species of birds can be spotted. A large number of spectacular migratory birds also visit the state every year.
The colourful and exotic species of birds found in Karnataka include the Malabar parakeet, Grey francolin, Little grebe, Painted stork, Cattle egrets, Storm petrels, Malabar grey horn bill, Black Kite, Spot billed pelican, Red necked falcon, Brown crake, Ruddy breasted crake, Indian roller, Great Indian bustard, Yellow wattled lapwing, and many other species.
Reptiles: Karnataka has a remarkable diversity of reptiles. Among the reptiles found in the dense forests of the state are various species of dangerous snakes like the Indian python, the King cobra, the trinket snake, the Indian cobra, the common krait, the large eyed bronze back and the common rat snake.
The common Indian monitor lizard, the Malabar flying lizard, the dwarf gecko, the striped lizard, southern green calotes and the Indian chameleon also exist in Karnataka. The marsh crocodile and other crocodile species inhabit the wetlands of Karnataka. The beaches of coastal Karnataka serve as the nesting grounds for the rare leatherback turtle and the olive ridley turtle.
Fishes: The numerous streams and rivers flowing through Karnataka are abundant with an impressive variety of fishes. The various water bodies in the Western Ghats are full of exotic species of freshwater fishes. Some of the common freshwater fishes of Karnataka are the eels, carps, barbs, minnows, danios, mahseers, barils, osteobramas, chelas, garras and catfish. The long coastline of Karnataka is also a great habitat for marine fishes like sardines, rays, soles, mackerals, tuna, herrings, sharks, cods, ponyfish and several other species.
Amphibians: Karnataka is rich in its amphibian diversity. The Western Ghats is home to a large species of amphibians. The endangered purple frog and Malabar flying frog are found in the forests of the Western Ghats. The Malabar gliding frog, the golden frog and the Indian bull frog are among the diverse species of amphibians existing in the state.
Insects: Karnataka is a hotspot for insects. The state has a rich diversity of beautiful butterflies and many unique varieties of insects. The Western Ghats and the forests of Karnataka are habitats of different species of insects like aquatic insects, day flying insects, night flying insects, etc.
Endangered fauna of Karnataka
The Forest Department of Karnataka has declared 40 animals as endangered species in the state. Some of the endangered fauna of Karnataka include the following:
- Lion tailed macau
- Sloth bear
- Black buck
- Indian brown mongoose
- Wild dog
- Kolar-leaf nosed bat
- Travancore flying squirrel
- Spotted eagle
- Olive ridley turtle
- Leatherback turtle
National parks in Karnataka
Karnataka has five national parks and several wildlife sanctuaries. These habitats are home to a varied population of wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects, etc. The five national parks of Karnataka are:
Bandipur National Park: The Bandipur National Park is the habitat of a large population of wild animals, reptiles, birds, butterflies, insects, etc. A number of endangered species like the tigers, Indian elephants, sloth bears, gaurs, Indian rock pythons, jackals, muggers and four-horned antelopes can be spotted in this national park.
Bannerghatta National Park: The Bannerghatta National Park is known to support numerous animals and more than one hundred species of birds. It has a fenced forested elephant sanctuary. The butterfly park at Bannerghatta supports over twenty species of lovely butterflies. Species like leopard, wild boar, jackal, gaur, chital, hare, hippopotamus, barking deer, porcupine, common langur, pangolin, cobras, python, etc. are commonly seen at Bannerghatta National Park.
Anshi National Park: The Anshi National Park is known for its population of large animals like the Bengal tigers, Indian elephants and black panthers. Other distinctive fauna species of the park include Indian wild boar, Indian bison, bonnet macaque, grey slender loris, barking deer, Indian grey mongoose, jackal, king cobra, bamboo pit viper, rat snake, monitor lizards, Indian rock python and Russell’s viper. The park is inhabited by more than 200 species of birds.
Kudremukh National Park: The Kudremukh National Park is recognised as a bio-diversity hotspot. The park falls under the Global Tiger Conservation Priority-I, as per the format established by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and World Wide Fund-USA. A large variety of mammals such as leopard, wild pig, tiger, sambar, wild dog, common langur, gaur and lion tailed macaque exist within the Kudremukh National Park.
Nagerhole National Park: The Nagerhole National Park is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. A diverse assembly of predators and carnivores such as the Indian leopard, sloth bear, Bengal tiger and striped hyena are found in the national park. Herbivorous species like the barking deer, the four-horned antelope, Indian elephant, gaur, sambar, wild boar and chital populate the park. More than 270 species of birds and various kinds of reptiles are also part of the Nagerhole National Park’s biodiversity.
Conservation of fauna in Karnataka
Wildlife conservation is a matter of concern for the whole country, including Karnataka. An unnatural decrease in the number of wildlife species can cause tremendous harm to the natural ecological balance. Deforestation and over-exploitation of forest resources are serious threats to the diverse fauna of the state. The state government is taking measures to preserve the impressive fauna of the state. It is implementing various conservation models to protect and conserve the wildlife of Karnataka.