India vs Africa Wildlife
At the onset let me caution the readers that this blog is not an attempt to undermine any particular continent or sub-continent. This is one planet, and due to unique terrains, weather, altitudes, forest types, and climatic requirement the bio-diversity is different in different areas of the planet.
When one talks of wildlife, safaris, and jungle excursions, the first land that comes to mind are Africa, and rightly so. The sheer number of mammals, birds, reptiles, trees, and plant species here is enormous.
India is always an afterthought, at times not even that. Though the comparison of a continent vs a country is not right, it is worth an effort to put things in perspective to see the past, current, and future of wildlife in the two continents.
India is one-tenth the land mass of Africa but has ten times the human population density compared to Africa. This suggests the little space left for the animals in India. But still, India has managed to keep 24.62% of total land as its forest cover, while Africa is about 22.7%. The most significant aspect however here is that India’s forest cover has increased in the last two decades, but Africa’s Forest cover has reduced by 10% in the same time span.
Going forward this does not augur well for the future of wildlife in Africa, and for the planet. For reduction of forest cover anywhere will impact everyone on the planet. Just like, the climate change problem this is forest cover is not a problem that can be handled by one country or continent. Everyone has to come together to help themselves and save from the impending climate change disaster.
Frankly comparing Indian Wildlife versus African Wildlife is like comparing apples and oranges in a way. But when one delves deep into it with scientific data then what comes out is quite interesting.
Some facts about India vs Africa Flora and Fauna
|Land Mass||3.2 million sq kms||30 million sq kms|
|Total Forest Cover||24.62% of total land||22.7% of total land|
|Human population||1.45 billion||1.4 billion|
|Human Population density||460 per sq km||45 per sq km|
|Total Mammals||410 species||1100 species,|
|Bird species||1300 species||2300 species|
|Reptile species||518 species||1648 species|
|Total Plant Species||Over 50000||Over 65400|
Though Africa is certainly a richer continent when it comes to flora and fauna, the below table is a worrying factor for Africa.
The population of some keystone species of India vs Africa
|Lion population||Increased by 30% in last 20 years||Reduced by 95% in 50 years|
|Elephant population||Reduced by 10% in last 20 years||Reduced by 95% in 50 years|
|Tiger population||Increased by 200% in the last 16 years||NA|
|Rhino population||Increased by 60% in last 30 years||Reduced by 62% in 50 years|
What definitely goes in favor of Africa is the sheer numbers/volumes of animals. Due to these sheer numbers, the wildlife in African parks is seen much more easily compared to the Indian wildlife which has to be searched intensely. Tracking wildlife, especially predators in India is intense due to a couple of reasons, like, the foliage is dense and undulating as well, and the nature of our predators is a bit different. Tiger is an elusive animal, stays alone, and hunts alone, unlike Lions who stay in pride and hunt as a team more often than not.
Indian Wildlife versus African Wildlife
Africa and India both have their Elephants. While Africa has a Hippopotamus, we have a Rhino which is superior to his African relative. Our wild buffaloes are as savage as Africans, but with far superior horns to the cape species. We also have four other species of wild bovines to which there is nothing comparable in Africa. The Yaks, Gaur, Gayal, and the Nilgai are big bovines seen in India.
In big cats, apart from the Lions, and Leopards which are common to both, we also have the Tiger and the Snow Leopard. Yes, we lost the Asiatic Cheetah to loss of habitat and poaching. But we are seeing the Cheetah being reintroduced in the next few months in India. In cats, we have almost 50% more species compared to Africa.
The Blackbuck surpasses all antelopes of Africa when it comes to sheer beauty, and speed. Buck, apart we have 14 other species of Antelopes apart from the wild goats and sheep in the hills. Let’s not forget the beauty of the Bara Singha (the 12-tined antelope) which has been rated as the most handsome deer in the world. India has nine species of antlered deer while Africa has no proper Deer at all barring the Barbary Stag.
We have three species of Bears, Himalayan, Brown, and Sloth, while Africa has none.
The highest point in Africa is Mt Kilimanjaro at 5800 mts. In India, the highest is Mt. Kanchenjunga at 8585 mts, not to forget Mt Everest 8850 mts in the neighborhood.
India vs Africa Birding
While India has over 1300 species, Africa has 2300. But if we are to keep the size of the two land masses, I think India is far richer. In a 10–12-day tour you can end up seeing far more species in India compared to Africa.
Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary has been called the best birding area in the world by none else but the founder of the World Wildlife Fund, Peter Scott. A visit to this sanctuary in winter will show the real beauty of the avifauna world. Birds in thousands enjoying the environs of this world heritage site.
It is however ironic that wildlife across the planet, including, forests, oceans, mountains, and deserts is in dire straits. In India some great measures have been taken by the Government, Forest department, Non-Government Organisations, and many dedicated individuals in protecting our wildlife. Poaching of the endangered species is practically under control. One odd case does surface once in a while, but largely the wildlife is being given a priority in protection.
India is a fast-growing developing country and has a lot of catching up to do with highways, expressways, airports, and ports. However, the same is being done keeping the interests of forests in mind now. A good example is an elevated 4-lane highway through the Pench-Kanha corridor in central India, where a lot of underpasses were made for the animals to move freely under the flyovers.
Many species in some parts of India which had gone almost missing have been reinstated. Be it the Barasingha in central India, Tigers in Panna and Sariska, and Gaur in Bandhavgarh National Park, there is a lot of good news also for Indian Wildlife overall.
I can only pray that Wildlife Worldwide remains forever, and humans realize at some point in time that this planet is for all species to share, and it doesn’t belong only to humans. Everyone has been put here for a reason and we must all respect the same. So, if you have not visited any of these two wildlife havens, i.e. Africa and India, then please do.
Born and brought up in New Delhi, it was Sharad’s childhood passion to play cricket for India. While on a holiday in 1990, he saw his first tiger. Little did he know that this one sighting would immerse him into a realm where forests and tigers were all that mattered.
Sharad’s experiences as a wildlife photographer have inspired him to observe the tiger’s behavior for over 30 years and motivated him on his own journey as an entrepreneur. He started Nature Safari India Pvt Ltd, with a focus on “Conservation through Tourism.” to align himself to the mission of saving the regal species and repopulating them in India’s forests. In 2006, he set up one of India’s premier jungle lodges in Kanha National Park.
Sharad believes that there are many lessons to be learned from a tiger that can be applied successfully to leadership—both in business and in life. Here’s a new book by Sharad Vats on management and leadership skills to learn from a Tiger.