India

India stretches from the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south. In between lay the fertile plains of the Ganga and the Central Highlands, the Thar Desert to the west, the rain forests in the northeast and mangrove forests stretching to the east. A vast plateau flanked by two hilly coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats, covers the southern part of the country. The Ganges River flows east to the Bay of Bengal.

India’s habitats are diverse – from swamps and rainforests to mountains and coastal plains. A range of wildlife can be found here, including elephants, tigers, rhinos, buffaloes, crocodiles, primates, butterflies and numerous bird species.

Poaching and illegal trade, however, are a major problem facing India’s wildlife. Other environmental problems include deforestation, desertification, overgrazing, and air and water pollution. India’s huge population is also straining the country’s natural resources.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI
Rice cultivation, Anaimalai, Tamil Nadu, India.
© WWF-Canon / Mauri RAUTKARI

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • With growing energy demands, India is looking to expand its alternative energy sources; more than 1/3 of energy consumed in India already comes from hydropower.
  • Tap water is not potable throughout the country.
  • Many restaurants will offer treated drinking water, but it’s advisable for tourists to stick to bottled water.
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Recycling
  • Recycling in India is undertaken through the informal sector, which includes waste pickers who look for plastics, paper, glass and metals to sell.
 
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Transport
  • The Indian railway system is the second largest in the world. The network connects all of India with 7,000 train stations.
  • Indian Railways offers special trains for tourists and people who want to travel in luxury. There’s the Palace on Wheels, which travels through Rajasthan, and the Royal Orient Express
  • Bus services are available at all train stations to bring you to the more remote locations within India such as most of the Himalayan valleys and mountainous region.
  • You can find ships, boats and ferries throughout the country’s rivers and coastal areas, particularly in Calcutta where access to the Sunderbans delta region is only by boat.
  • New Delhi is not a pedestrian city, so it is best if you take an auto-rickshaw or a taxi for transportation.
  • There may not be any organized bike paths in India’s cities, but bicycles are still a good way to get around town.
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Food
  • India has by far the most vegetarians of any country in the world, especially as Hinduism – the predominant religion – encourages a vegetarian diet.
  • Vegetarian restaurants are everywhere in India, offering a wide range of dishes.
  • Here is a guide to some vegetarian restaurants and health food stores in India: http://www.happycow.net/asia/india/
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Souvenirs
  • Buy a wool pashmina shawl instead of shahtoosh. Shahtoosh, a high fashion scarf, comes from the hair of the Tibetan antelope. To obtain the wool, the antelope has to be killed. Though some traders may tell you the wool can be collected from bushes which the animal has brushed against, that’s false. Due to poaching, the population of this species is dwindling and the species is on the endangered list.
  • India has very strict wildlife protection laws, and buying any wildlife article or its derivatives in India is an offence and has serious legal implications. 
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Green Spots
  • Corbett National Park: Named after the Indian-born British naturalist Jim Corbett, this is the oldest national park in India. Located some 300km from New Delhi in the Himalayan foothills, the park is a WWF priority protected area. In addition to protecting over 100 endangered Bengal tigers, one also finds elephant, sambar, gharial crocodile, king cobra, nearly 600 species of birds and other wildlife.
  • Manas National Park: Located in the Himalayan foothills in the state of Assam near the border with Bhutan, Manas is the largest conservation area in the region. It is home to Asian elephants, rhinos, tigers, leopards, golden langurs and much more. The ideal time to visit the Manas national park is during the months of November to April.
  • Kaziranga National Park: Located in the state of Assam in northeast India, the park lies in the flood plains of the Brahmaputra River. It is home to the world’s largest Indian rhinoceros population, as well as other threatened species. More than 400 bird species have been recorded in the Kaziranga area. The best season to visit is from November to April.
  • Sundarbans National Park: Located in the Ganges Delta in Indian state of West Bengal, Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world. A number of rare or endangered species live in the park, including Royal Bengal tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles. The only means of travelling the park is by boat. The ideal time to visit is November to February when the tigers can often be seen on the river banks.
  • Keoladeo National Park: Situated between the Gambhir and Banganga rivers in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, Keoladeo is known for its grasslands, woodlands, swamps and wetlands. Some 364 bird species are found here, including the rare Siberian crane.
  • Nagarhole National Park: Situated in southern India, Nagarhole is one of the best places to see elephants and tigers. The park is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The winter months, from November to February, are the best time to visit.
  • Kanha Tiger Reserve: Situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Kanha is one of the best places to see tigers as well as gaur (Indian bison), deer, wild dogs and several species of birds.
  • Taj Mahal: Situated in the city of Agra in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, about 200km south of New Delhi, the Taj Mahal is one of India’s most famous tourist sites. The monument was built for Mumtaz Mahal, the favourite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, in the 17th century. The Taj’s gardens are decorated with trees and fountains and perfectly manicured grass. It is a popular place for Indians and tourists alike to stroll.
  • Nehru Park: Named after India’s first prime minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, this is one of New Delhi’s leading green areas, known for its gardens, weekend picnics, concerts and morning yoga classes.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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