The term Protected Areas is commonly used to describe areas of Ecological and Biological importance like Wildlife Sanctuaries, National Parks, Zoos, Game reserves etc. An area qualifies to be declared as Protected Area when it bears some floral or faunal species of great significance, which needs to be conserved or has an ecological system, which is fragile and needs to be protected. Most countries all over the world have taken elaborate measures to identify areas of Ecological & Biological significance and declare them as protected. It is in such area that most of the rich Biological Diversity of the world exists. India, being situated in the tropical region harbours a rich Bio-Diversity. With just 2% of the world’s land area, India supports about 10% of the world’s Biological Diversity making it the seventh richest Bio-Diversity country in the world. This distinction bestows a great responsibility on the Govt. to protect and conserve its rich Floral, Faunal & Ecological Diversity. This is sought to be done by establishing a network of Sanctuaries and National Parks, which encompass areas of Ecological and Biological importance. The State of Andhra Pradesh, due to its strategic location and its geographical variation is considered as one of the rich Bio-Diversity states in India.
Geographically Andhra Pradesh stands as the fifth largest state in India with the longest coastline stretching over 1000 Kms. The State is bestowed with two mighty river systems of Krishna and Godavari. The State has wide and varied vegetation types enriched by a variety of flora and fauna. Andhra Pradesh being located strategically in the central region of the Indian sub-continent has representatives of the magnificent Indian plant & animal life. Its varied topography ranging from the hills of Eastern Ghats and Nallamallas to the shores of Bay of Bengal supports varied ecotypes, which in turn support a rich diversity of flora & fauna. The forest in the state can broadly be divided into four major biotic provinces.
Central Plateau - 35 %
Eastern Highland - 11 %
East Coastal Plains - 1 %
The vegetation found in the state is largely of dry deciduous type with a mixture of Teak, Terminalias, Dalbergias, Pterocarpus, Anogeissus etc. The hills of Eastern Ghats add greatly to the Biological Diversity and provide centers of endemism for plants, birds and lesser forms of animal life. The varied habitat harbors a diversity of fauna which includes Tiger, Panther, Wolf, Wild Dog, Hyena, Sloth Bear, Gaur, Black Buck, Chinkara, Chowsingha, Nilgai, Cheetal, Sambar and a number of Birds and Reptiles. The long sea coast provides the nesting ground for sea turtles, the back water of Pulicat lake are the feeding grounds for Flamingo & Grey Pelican, the estuaries of river Godavari and Krishna support rich mangrove forests with Fishing Cat and Otters as key stone species.
The State is a proud possessor of some rare and endemic plants like Cycas beddomei, Pterocarpus santalinus, Terminalia pallida, Syzygium alternifolium, Shorea talura, Shorea tumburgia, Psilotum nudam etc. Similarly the Double banded or the Jerdon’s Courser, the Golden Gecko, the Slender Loris which are rare and endangered are endemic to the State.
Andhra Pradesh has a network of (21) Sanctuaries and (6) National Parks covering an area of 12,579.205 Sq. Kms. or 4.57 % of the geographical area of the state.
The State with its rich forests and diverse flora & fauna provides ample scope for promoting Eco-Tourism. The natural beauty of the state has not been exposed to the visitors till now. The Govt. have drawn up a plan to open up the Protected Area Network of the State for visitors. Each of the Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park of the State has its own significance and has something unique to offer to the visitors.