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Why western Ghats are Important?

Why western Ghats are Important?

The Western Ghats mountain ranges, a global biodiversity hotspot, stretch along the west coast of India from the Tapti River in the north to the southern tip of India. The Western Ghats are older than the Himalayan mountains, the Western Ghats mountain range represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has defined the importance of the Western Ghats as follows: “The Western Ghats perform essential hydrological and watershed functions.

Approximately 245 million people live in the peninsular states of India that receive most of their water supply from rivers that originate in the Western Ghats. Therefore, the soil and water of this region support the livelihood of millions of people.”

Many species are endemic, such as the Nilgiri tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius) and the lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus). In fact, 50% of India’s amphibians and 67% of fish species are endemic to this region.

The Western Ghats are extremely important from various points of view.

One is its geomorphic importance. It is older than the Himalayas and is considered an “evolutionary ecotone” illustrating the “Out of Africa” and “Out of India” hypotheses.

  • The Western Ghats stretch across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.
  • It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight “hottest hot spots” of biological diversity in the world.
  • It houses properties including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, world heritage sites, etc.
  • It has more than 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1,814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 species of mammals, 508 species of birds, 179 species of amphibians, 6,000 species of insects, and 290 species of freshwater fish.
  • Therefore, the demarcation of an ESA is an effort to protect the fragile ecosystem from indiscriminate industrialization, mining and unregulated development.
  • Two committees, Gadgil and Kasturirangan, have been appointed in the last eight years to identify areas that should be kept out of such activities.

Species that are globally threatened and are found in the Western Ghats:

  1. Plant species – 229
  2. Mammal Species – 31
  3. Bird Species – 15
  4. Amphibian Species – 43
  5. Reptile Species – 5
  6. Fish Species – 1

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