Eastern Deccan Plateau Moist Forests

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Indian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India.
© WWF-Canon / Claire DOOLE

About the Area

These low elevation relatively dry moist forests, which stretch along the southeastern coast of India, provide habitat for several threatened mammals, including a priority area for tiger conservation.

However, almost the entire ecoregion has undergone deforestation due to rapidly growing population pressures.

Size:
340,000 sq. km (131,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
India

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered
Local Species
The elephant population that ranges from the Nilgiri Hills to the Eastern Ghats, estimated at more than 6,000 animals, is considered to be the largest single elephant population in India. The ecoregion harbors several large mammals of conservation significance, such as tiger (Panthera tigris), barasingha (Cervus duvaucelii), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), wolf (Canis lupus), Asiatic wild dog (Cuon alpinus), sloth bear (Ursus ursinus), leopard (Panthera pardus), blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), and the chinkara (Gazella bennettii).

Species such as crested serpent-eagle (Spilornis cheela), chestnut-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus), plum-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala), pied cuckoo (Oxylophus jacobinus), and the black-capped kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) represent a mere selection of the bird population.

Characteristic plants include Manilkara hexandra, Memecylon umbellatum, Drypetes sepiaria, Pterospermum suberifolium, and Carmona microphylla.

Featured Species

The chinkara (Gazella bennettii) is a species of gazelle found in South Asia. It is also known as the Indian gazelle (Gazella gazella bennetti). This gazelle stands at 65 cm and weighs about 23 kg. Most males have very short horns, although some reach around 25 cm in length. It is a shy animal and avoids human habitation.

The chinkara can go without water for long periods and can even get sufficient fluids from plants and dew drops. Although mostly seen as solitary animals, they can sometimes be spotted in small groups numbering up to 3-4 individuals.

It is classified as extremely vulnerable, with the main cause of its decline due to hunting.
Threats
Shifting cultivation, quarrying, mining, large-scale agriculture, and hydroelectric projects have resulted in the clearing and degradation of many habitats. Conservation efforts are urgently needed to ensure that the remaining large habitat blocks are not lost.
WWF’s work
The Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Division of WWF-India strives to promote and enhance conservation of forest ecosystems in the country, through a participatory approach involving key stakeholders.

The Biodiversity Conservation Prioritization Projects (BCPP) was initiated in 1996 to prioritize sites, species and strategies for biodiversity conservation. Over 2 years the project involved hundreds of community groups and over 40 NGOs, education and scientific institutions, and government agencies.

The aim was the development of a participatory methodology and the application of this methodology to identify a set of conservation priorities. The project was executed through more than 100 sub-projects covering the whole country and working from national, regional and state-levels down to village clusters and individual villages.

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