Indian study sites

The Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary is an area of high biodiversity nestled between the Western and Eastern Ghat hill ranges of the southern Indian peninsula.

Map India

A part of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot in the state of Karnataka, India, this 540 sq km sanctuary is unique in several ways - its heterogeneity of physiographic forms, the climatic regime it experiences because of its location and physiography, as well as the flora and fauna it supports. The sanctuary has a hilly terrain varying between 600m to 1800 m above sea level and receives rainfall from both the Southwest and Northeast monsoon winds, with an annual average ranging between 898 – 1750 mm depending on location within the sanctuary.

The complexity and diversity in the vegetation of BRT is a function of the spatial variability in topography and climate, along with human activities including fire. The vegetation of the sanctuary has been classified into ten different types (see Table 1) from dry scrub thickets to dense wet evergreen forests and shola-grassland mosaics at high elevations. The area is rich in biodiversity, with at least 1400 species of higher plants, and 254 species of birds. The BRT landscape has 27 species of mammals, including large mammalian herbivores such as the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), gaur (Bos gaurus), and carnivores such as the tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), and dhole (Cuon alpinus). The sanctuary has recently been declared a Tiger Reserve, in light of the higher protection it needs for preserving tiger habitat. Though the problem of invasive alien shrub Lantana camara was reported in the past, some recent studies have highlighted an almost ten-fold increase in its density and abundance, extensively affecting the local ecosystem dynamics for the flora as well as fauna.

Table 1. Vegetation Types in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary
No Type Description
1 Scrub Woodland to Thicket
2 Scrub Woodland to Thicket (with Bamboo)
3 Scrub Woodland to Thicket (discontinuous)
4 Semi-evergreen forests
5 Shrub Savanna
6 Tree Savanna
7 Woodland to Savanna woodland
8 Riparian forests
9 Evergreen forests
10 Coffee

Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

The Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, established fairly recently in 1999, covers an area of 212 sq kms in the South Goa district in the state of Goa, in the western central part of India. The sanctuary supports abundant and rare wildlife species representative of both the northern and southern Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot of India, and has a luxuriant vegetation of the evergreen and moist deciduous type. Enjoying a short concentrated monsoon season with an average of about 3000 mm rainfall, the sanctuary has elevations ranging from 40m to 840m. This rainfall pattern gives it the characteristic vegetation pattern, including moist and dry deciduous forests as well as thorn scrublands with dominant species such as Terminalia paniculata, Xylia xylocarpa, Syzigium cumini, and Careya arborea. The main pressures affecting the area are those of anthropogenic disturbances in the form of cultivation – mainly agricultural and horticultural - and habitation along its edges, as well as mining of iron ore and bauxite in some locations surrounding the area. The protected area has recently also seen the advent of invasive alien species such as Lantana camara and Chromolaena odorata mostly along open areas and roads leading into the denser forested sections.