Friday, February 29, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Assam

Keteki Phool

The One Horned Rhino

Various Birds

Kopou phool

krishnasura Tree

Polash tree

Sunaru Tree

flora and fauna at Kaziranga


Assam is gifted with varieties of flora and fauna including world famous the Great Indian One Horned Rhino, Pigmy Hog, Royal Bengal Tiger, Elephant, Swamp Deer, Gangetic Dolphin, Wild Buffalo, Golden Langur, Hoolock Gibbon, Stump-tailed Macaque and Pig-tailed Macaque, Hispid Hare etc. The birds found in Assam includes Greater Adjutant Stork, White winged wood duck, Bengal Florican, Spotbilled Pelican, Lesser Adjutant Stork, King Vulture, Great Hornbills, Long-billed and Spotted Wren-babblers, Large and Coral-billed Scimitar Babblers, Laughingthrush etc.

Much of the state is covered with dense tropical forests of bamboo and, at higher elevations, evergreens. Many valuable trees like Sal, Agar, Segun, Bon Chom etc., found in these forests which help in economic development of the state.

Erianthus is a tall hard reed that grows in loamy soil that gets flooded during the monsoon, whereas Arundo donax or the Giant Reed is found in areas that constantly remain wet. Monochoria haestefolia, a local species of water hyacinth grows in Assam as the whole valley is scattered with lakes, and hence, wetland. The valley is an important breeding ground for Greater and Lesser Adjutant Storks, both globally threatened species. Bombax or the Silk Cotton trees are seen in abundence and these cottons are used for making pillows. In the eastern part of the valley the gradual emergence of Alluvial Semi-evergreen Forest sometimes results in Tropical Wet Evergreen Forest.

There are also other trees like the beautiful Lagerstroemia flosreginae with its mauve coloured flowers, the Hill Clerodendrum Clerodendrum viscosum and the imposing Betel Palms Areca catechu. Betel Palms are grown all over the place and the Assamese chew it with Pan Piper betel, a climber belonging to the same genus as pepper and lime. Another species of Palm - the Fish-tail Palm Caryota urens is also seen.

The woodland of Kaziranga is divided into three main types - Riparian Fringing Forest, Dillenia Swamp Forest and Assam Alluvial Plains Semi-evergreen Forest.
The Riparian Fringing Forest is comprised of grassland and trees. There were big stands of the Giant Reed growing to a height of more than 13 ft Arundo donax, known as Nal to the Assamese. This plant was used as a reed in the Buffalo Horn played during the Bihu Festival. There were various trees in these forests - mainly Lagerstroemia flosreginae, but also Lagerstroemia parviflora, the Caper Tree Crataeva religiosa.

The large tracts of Dillenia Swamp forest were very scenic. Two species of trees - the Elephant Apple Dillenia indica and Dysoxylum binectariferum - are characteristic of this habitat type. These forests are also covered with Rattan Calamus tenuis brakes.

In the semi-evergreen forests, the moist and humid conditions make it suitable for the growth of epiphytes and lianas. Two specific species of Orchids - Rhynchostylis retusa, known locally as Kapou phool and Ornithocalyx teres grow here. Assam's most celebrated flower, the Kopou Phool, is known to the orchid enthusiast of the West as the Foxtail Orchid. This orchid grows widely across Assam and is worn by young women on their hair during the spring festival of Assam, Rongali Bihu and is symbolic of youth and renewal. The tea plants in Assam are species of Camellia - Camellia sinensis and Camellia assamica. A lot of Water hyacinth including Eichornia crassipes, Monochoria haestefolia are seen in the forests of Assam. Water lilies Nymphaea pubescens and Lotuses Nelumbo nucifera are also seen. The Assamese use a lot of bamboo in their day-to-day life. There are several species of bamboo, each having different purposes for use. Wild flowers grow all over the countryside in Assam. Ipomea reptans, a large mauve-coloured flower growing in swampy ground, Leucas aspera, Cassia alata and the silvery-pink Argyreia hookeri are among the attractive wild flowers.

The Kaziranga National Park contains about 15 species of India's threatened (Schedule I) mammals. It harbours the world's largest population of Indian rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis (E), which has increased from a few dozen in 1908 (Gee, 1964) to some 1,080 in 1984 and 1,100 in 1988. Other mammals include capped langur Presbytis pileata, a small population of hoolock gibbon Hylobates hoolock, tiger Panthera tigris (E), leopard P. pardus (T), sloth bear Melursus ursinus (I), Indian elephant Elephas maximus (E) (523), Ganges dolphin Platanista gangetica, otter Lutra lutra, wild boar Sus scrofa (3,645), water buffalo Bubalus arnee (V) (677), gaur Bos gaurus (V) (30), sambar Cervus unicolor (358), swamp deer C. duvauceli (V) (756), hog deer C. porcinus (9,872) and Indian muntjac Muntiacus muntjak. Population estimates are based on the 1984 census, details of which are given by Choudhury (1987). Elephants and other animals migrate with the advent of the monsoon and head southwards to the Mikir Hills and beyond to avoid the annual flooding of the national park in 1981.

The numerous water bodies are rich reservoirs of food (including fish) andthousands of migratory birds, representing over 100 species, visit the park seasonally from as far afield as Siberia. There is a grey pelican Pelecanus philippensis rookery near Kaziranga Village. Other birds of interest include black-necked stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, lesser adjutant stork Leptoptilos javanicus, Pallas's fish eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, grey-headed fish eagle Icthyophaga icthyaetus, perhaps 25-30 Bengal florican Houbaropsis bengalensis (E), swamp partridge Francolinus gularis, grey peacock-pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum, great pied hornbill Buceros bicornis, green imperial pigeon Ducula aenea, silver-breasted broadbill Serilophus lunatus and Jerdon's bushchat Saxicola jerdoni. The avifauna comprises over 300 species in 1987.


One Horned Rhino


The Indian Rhinoceros or the Great One-horned Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis, is found in Nepal and Assam. The most obvious distinguishing characterstic of the rhinos is a large horn above the nose, which is, unlike those of other one horned mammals, consist of keratin. The horn, which reaches a length of between 20 and 61 cm, is present in both male and females, but not on newborn ones.

The one-horned Rhinoceros has thick, silver-brown skin creating huge folds all over its body. The upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps and it has very little body hair. Fully grown males are larger than females in the wild, standing about 1.8 metres tall, weighing from 2000 - 3000 kg and reaching up to 3.6 metres long. In captivity, both males and females attain much larger weights (up to 3500kg). Indian rhinos live up to age of 45 years.
There are five kinds of Rhinos found in the world - white rhino, black rhino, Indian rhino, Javan rhino, and Sumatran rhino. The white and black Rhinos are live in Africa, while Indian, Javan and Sumatran are Asian Rhinos, found in North Pakistan, Assam, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Rhinos are herbivorous and Indian Rhinos mostly eat grass, fruits, leaves and crops. Rhinos, being poached for their horn, is an endangered species though it has very few natural enemies. Some cultures in East Asia believe that the horn of rhino has healing and potency powers.
The rare one-horned rhino was almost driven to extinction during the 19th century and a concerted effort by the government of India and the Assam state government for saving the one-horned rhino from extinction was a great success. Today, two thirds of the world's one-horn rhinos live at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam.

Pigmy hog

The pigmy hog is the smallest and the rarest wild suid in the world. It has a dark brownish black skin covered by coarse, dark hair. Young are born with a grayish-pink skin, but become brown with the yellow longitudinal stripes seen in many piglets at about 11 days of age. The streamlined body is round and close to the ground, with short, stubby legs and a short tail. The body length of a full-grown Pigmy hog is about 55-71 cm or 1.8-2.3 ft. The head is triangular-shaped and sharply tapered, with a slight crest of hair on the forehead and nape of the neck. In adult males the upper canines poke slightly out the sides of the mouth. An adult pigmy hog weights about 6.6kg to 11.8 kg. Unlike other pigs, the both sexes of the pigmy hog create and use vegetation nests at all times of the year.
For food they depend on roots, grasses, leaves, fruit, insects and carrion.

Swamp deer

The Swamp Deer of the deer family was closest to extinction a few decades ago. They derive their name from the large antlers of the adult male, which, by the time they attain adulthood, develop more than 12 points and attain lengths up to 75 cms. It weighs in at approximately 180 kgs once fully grown with a height nearing 130 cms. Their life expectancy ranges between 20 - 30 years. The Swamp deer or known as Barasingha in India, has a dense brown coat that keeps it warm and dry in its moist habitat. The coat of the male Swamp deer becomes darker in color during the mating season. The underparts, including the underside of the tail, are whitish.
Swamp deer are herbivores. Their main diet consists of grass which they feed on in the vast grasslands of central and northern India. Some of them have also been seen eating grass from the bed of wet swamps.
Barasingha are usually seen in herds that vary in size depending on the time of year. Herds usually consist of 10 - 20 members.
The Barasingha was previously seen across most of North and central India in areas of moist forest and swampland. With the destructions of its habitat, it is now seen in isolated protected forests in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Madhya Pradesh.

Golden Langur

The Golden Langur, an Old World monkey found primarily in the foothills of the Himalayas along the Assam-Bhutan border, is known for its rich golden to bright creamish hair, a black face and a very long tail measuring 70-100 cm in length. On the crown there is an ill-defined whorl of hair that may protect the eyes and face from glare. The average body mass for adult males is 10.8 kilograms and for adult females it is 9.5 kilograms.
The Golden Langur is herbivorous, basically eating fruits, mature and young leaves, seeds, buds and flowers. It generally lives in troops consisting about 8 to 50 members with several females to each adult male. The Golden Langur is currently is one of the most seriously endangered primate species of India, the total population being about 10,000, with the relative dearth of infants and juveniles indicating a declining population and the habitat being degraded by human activity.
The distribution of golden langurs is limited to a small area of western Assam in northeast India and Bhutan between the rivers Manas in the east, Sankosh in the west, and Brahmaputra in the south. Demographic trends indicate a decline in the golden langur population.

Hoolock Gibbon

Hoolock Gibbon is the only species of ape to be found in India weighing a little over 6 kg (13 lb). The adult male is always black, except for its prominent white eyebrows, while the adult female is gold or buff or brownish buff. The evergreen and semi-evergreen forests of the Northeastern region are natural habitats of this endangered species in India. Fruit comprises the majority of its diet, which also includes leaves, flowers, buds and a small amount of insects and spiders.
Hoolock gibbons live in small, monogamous family groups, consisting of a mated pair with their offspring. The size of a group ranges from 2 - 6 members. There are deep social bonds between group members.
The hoolock gibbon moves by leaping or jumping between the trees or by walking on tree trunks or on the ground. Its light body and long and strong arms help it to exploit the terminal branches of trees and vines. When walking on the ground, it usually holds its long arms upward or horizontal for balance.
The Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary in Jorhat District of Assam is the only protected area in India to be named after a primate species.

Adjutant Stork

The Lesser Adjutant lives in much broader area, from India to Indonesia, but is not common anywhere.

How to identify a Lesser Adjutant:
Top of the head of the bird is white, and most birds tend to have much more neck-hair than the Greater Adjutants. Breeding birds have red or pink color in the beak area.
The Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, is not a scavenger, but a bird of preydepending mainly on fish, frogs, and reptiles, even snakes. They don't congregate near cities in the scale the Greater Adjutants often do; some birds are seen, though.

Greater Adjutant Stork

The Greater Adjutant, Leptoptilos dubius is an enormous stork, standing up to 1,5 m (five feet). It is said to be a shy and retiring bird on remote locations, but is much less so near cities. The species is essentially a scavenger, though sometimes they do catch some live pray also, as they sway their great beak from side to side in the water, much like an enormous spoonbill. This scavenging habit brings them in numbers close to human habitats, particularly outside the nesting season.
The last remaining major nesting sites for Greater Adjutant lay in Assam and Cambodia while the Lesser Adjutant lives in much broader area, from India to Indonesia, but is not common anywhere.How to identify a Greater Adjutant:
A large, hanging, orange chest-pouch is the most famous feature of an adult bird; in some birds, though, this pouch is either partly, or totally hidden behind the chest-feathers. They also have an equally bright neck-pouch. The beak is wider and it has a dark area in front of the eyes. The overall plumage color of the greater adjutant is dark bluish grey; Lesser Adjutants are more black.

How to identify a Lesser Adjutant:
: Top of the head of the bird is white, and most birds tend to have much more neck-hair than the Greater Adjutants. Breeding birds have red or pink color in the beak area.
The Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus, is not a scavenger, but a bird of preydepending mainly on fish, frogs, and reptiles, even snakes. They don't congregate near cities in the scale the Greater Adjutants often do; some birds are seen, though.

Great (Indian) Hornbills

The Great (Indian) Hornbills, the largest and arguably most impressive members of the hornbill family, are most commonly found in southeastern Asia. Standing nearly 4.5 feet tall with a 60-inch wingspan their tail feathers can reach 36 inches and they weight around six pounds.
The most distinctive feature of the hornbills is their casque or helmet-shaped heads. The casque of the Great Hornbill is made of the same element that ivory is made of. The bill is yellow and curved downward. The body is covered with black feathers. The wing tips have a ban of white feathers. The tail, sometimes reaching up to 3 feet (7.6cm), is white with bans of black feathers across. The neck of this bird is surrounded with circle of fur. They usually have short legs, but have broad feet.

In the wild hornbills eat primarily fruit, but also small mammals, lizards, snakes and insects. Great Indian Hornbills like to eat various types of berries.
Indian hornbills form monogamous pair bonds and live out their lives in groups of 2-40 individuals. The usual clutch size is about 2-4 white round eggs. The incubation period is about 28 to 40 days. It takes for another 4-8 week for the youngsters to mature. The mothers, during this maturation period, remain with their offspring. The males take care of the females when they are incubating, and the offspring when they are young.


Dr. Jyotirmoy said...

Your collection is good. Nice . Where have you got the flower of that Keteki Phool?

Dr. Jyotirmoy said...

I mean the picture of that Keteki phool

subha laskar said...

Is it Polash tree or Simol tree?

Rabin said...

It is not Polash or Butea menisperma. It is simalu or Bombax cieba. hello tourism department, please try to be professional,eh!

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Unknown said...

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