Rajasthan is a
classic example of bounty; seemingly stingy, but generous to the core. The
state’s vast size and latitudinal variations 1,700 metres above the sea provide
it with varied vegetation — semi-green
forests, dry grasslands, deciduous thorn forest and even wetlands.
Geographically speaking, Rajasthan lies between 22
degrees and 30 degrees north latitude and 69 and 70 degrees east longitude, in
the tract of Arabian Sea branch of the southwest monsoon. The Aravallis and, in the southeast, the plateau of
Hardoti being the only highlands, they channel the monsoons coming from
Kathiwar and stop the drier eastern flow, creating a desert in the west.
deserts of the world, Rajasthan’s Thar
Desert is neither barren nor uninhabited. It is covered with bushes and
shrubs and even trees, the most common being babul (Acacia nilotica) and the khejri, (Prosopis cineraria). It is
a great sandy tract with no streams and just a few rocks that protrude above
the lower land now covered with seemingly immobile sand dunes. The grasses on
these dunes grow in clumps, indicated the availability of water just below the
The area of
Malwa, a tableland extending up to the Vindhyas is covered with green forests on black lava soils because
of the rain from the monsoons. The wetter parts east and southeast of the
Aravallis have taller trees than the drier west. The south and eastern parts
between 270 metres (2,530 ft) has the axlewood (Anogeissus latifolia), dhokra (Anogeissus Pendula) and dhak (Butea
monosperma) forests. Characteristic of the wetter regions are the Banas
basin and northwards to the northeastern hilly tracts with mesquite or “salai” (Boswellia serrata) forests.
westwards across the Shekhawati and the Godawar tract, the rainfall decreases
and so do the khejri forests. Grasses which are tall and yellow fill the
patches between the amla trees (Emblica
officinalis) with their yellow blossoms. This land with the pipal (Ficus religiosa) marks a
boundary with the desert.
It is therefore
no wonder that Rajasthan is home to several species of animals and birds. Its
bosom abounds with prey, the life force for many exotic species. In season, its
woods echo with enchanting sounds of many indigenous varieties of birds and
even some winged-visitors from Russia; the majestic span of their wings make
for a visual treat.
attract both the benign and the fierce. Tigers,
leopard or the panther, jungle cat
(jungle bilao) and the caracal
(svjagosh) are found here. As a matter of fact, despite having seen a decline in tiger count over the decades,
Ranthambhore once again boasts of young cubs, as does its neighbour, Sariska.
members of the dog family, once quite abundant in Rajasthan are the jackal (gidar), the wolf (bhedia) and the
desert fox (lomdi).
Antelopes and gazelles are found in most of the regions of Rajasthan.
Black buck (kala hiran) are seen in the Jodhpur region and the small
herds of Indian gazelle (chinkara) are found in the sandy deserts. The robust blue
bull (Nilgai) is spotted frequently on open plains and in the foot hills of
the Aravalis. The four horned antelope
(chau singha) lives in the hilly regions.
Of the deer family, sambar and the
spotted deer (chital) is found in forests interspersed with patchy open
meadows. Of the monkeys only rhesus
macauqe (bandar) and langur are found near the Aravalli ranges.
The wild boar which was once
extensively hunted by Maharajas of Rajasthan is found around Mount Abu. Sloth bear can be seen, though rarely,
in the deciduous forests of Ranthambhore.
The common mangoose (newla) and the smaller Indian mangoose mostly found in
the arid zone live on rodents, birds and even snakes. The reptile species
commonly sighted are Indian python
(ajgar), the Indian chameleon
(girgit) and the garden lizard
(chhipkali). The crocodile and the ghariyal are also found in large water
bodies like rivers and lakes.
Rajastha is a bird
watcher’s paradise. The state is not only a safe haven to the endangered water
birds migrating from Siberia (over 6000 km) but also those that come from the
southern part of the Himalayas. The Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur has
almost 375 bird species and of great interest is the world's tallest black necked stork standing up to 1.8 metres and
its black and white wings span up to 2.5 meters. Hordes of demoiselle cranes can be sighted at Khichan and Sambhar. The rare
Indian bustard and the grey partridge are the birds of open scrub forests of