Chhota-Nagpur Dry Forests

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View of the Everest massif from the Singalila hills, Sikkim, India.
© WWF-Canon / NEYRET & BENASTAR

About the Area

The Chhota-Nagpur dry forests are not a mountain range or escarpment, but rather broken and weathered relicts of a peninsular plateau, marked by a series of isolated hills. The forests lie between the moist deciduous forests of the Eastern Ghats and Satpura Range and the lower reaches of the Gangetic Plains. They extend across the eastern Indian states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal.

The area served as a refuge during the last Ice Age, and thus contains numerous rare and endemic species. Several important tiger reserves occur in this ecoregion and it also includes some of the last populations of Asiatic elephants.

Size:
122,000 sq. km (49,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
Asia: Eastern India

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered
Local Species
The ecoregion's mammal fauna includes 77 species, including tiger (Panthera tigris), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), sloth bear (Ursus ursinus), leopard (Panthera pardus), blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), and chinkara (Gazella bennettii).

There are almost 280 bird species, several of which are of conservation importance, including the globally threatened lesser florican (Eupodotis indica).

These forests are dominated by teak with species such as Tectona grandis, Shorea robusta, Anogeissus latifolia, Terminalia alata, Lagerstroemia parviflora, and at higher elevations - Phoenix robusta. The endemic Cycad (Cycas beddomei) is a critically endangered species.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Featured Species

The Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) or Indian gazelle stands about 65 cm high and weighs around 23 kg. In summer its coat is a brown or reddish-buff color, with the fur smooth and highly glossy. In winter the white belly and throat fur is in sharper contrast. The tail is medium long and the chinkara can be easily recognized by the constant flickering of the tail. The average horn length of males is 25.5-30.5 cm (10-12 in) measured over the curve, with record horns reaching just over 39cm (15.5in).

The Chinkara is almost wholly nocturnal in foraging activity, though they will emerge to start feeding before sunset. Chinkaras are adapted to browsing and they will feed on various bushes and green twigs. They also take leaves of different plants and can go without water for days. A very adaptable animal, it seems to be able to exist in extensive sand-dune areas down to sea level as well as in stony plateaus and low hilly regions up to 1,500 m elevation.

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Threats
Logging, clearing, overgrazing, quarrying, mining, monocultures, and hydroelectric projects all pose threats to the ecoregion.
WWF’s work
WWF has chosen some of the highest profile and challenging species in the world to conserve. Not only are some highly endangered - e.g. tigers, rhinoceroses, some whale species, and great apes - but many are also extremely difficult to protect, both in practical conservation terms and at times because of political constraints at local and national levels.

By conserving threatened species in their natural habitat, WWF also ensures that the variety of life-supporting ecological services that are found there continue to function for the benefit of both humans and wildlife.

WWF’s work in this area focuses on the protection of Bengal tigers and Asian elephants. WWF has been working with local partners to strengthen anti-poaching efforts, and to reduce threats to the natural habitat, both in India and Nepal. Work is underway to reduce pressure on natural forests in order to reduce conflict.

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