Uttarakhand has a great diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 34651 km2 which constitutes 65% of the total area of the state.
Uttarakhand is home to rare species of plants and animals, many of which are protected by sanctuaries and reserves. National parks in Uttarakhand include theJim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District, and Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Parkin Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A number of plant species in the valley are internationally threatened, including several that have not been recorded from elsewhere in Uttarakhand. Rajaji National Park in Haridwar District and Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuaryand Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District are some other protected areas in the state.
Leopards are found in areas which are abundant in hills but may also venture into the lowland jungles. Smaller felines include the jungle cat, fishing cat, and leopard cat. Other mammals include four kinds of deer (barking, sambar, hog andchital), sloth and Himalayan black bears, Indian grey mongooses, otters, yellow-throated martens, bharal (goatantelopes), Indian pangolins, and langur and rhesus monkeys. In the summer, elephants can be seen in herds of several hundred. Marsh crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris), gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) and other reptiles are also found in the region. Local crocodiles were saved from extinction by captive breeding programs and subsequently re-released into the Ramganga river. Several freshwater terrapins and turtles like the Indian sawback turtle (Kachuga tecta), Brahminy river turtle (Hardella thurgii), and Ganges softshell turtle (Trionyx gangeticus) are found in the rivers.
Butterflies and birds of the region include red Helen (Papilio helenus), the great eggfly(Hypolimnos bolina), common tiger (Danaus genutia), pale wanderer (Pareronia avatar avatar), Jungle Babbler, Tawny-bellied Babbler, Great Slaty Woodpecker,Red-breasted Parakeet, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon and Chestnut-winged Cuckoo.
Evergreen oaks, rhododendrons, and conifers predominate in the hills. Shorea robusta (sal), silk cotton tree (Bombax ciliata), Dalbergia sissoo, Mallotus philippensis, Acacia catechu, Bauhinia racemosa, and Bauhinia variegata (camel's foot tree) are some other trees of the region. Albizia chinensis, the sweet sticky flowers of which are favoured by sloth bears, are also part of the region's flora.
A decade long study by Prof. C.P. Kala concluded that the Valley of Flowers is endowed with 520 species of higher plants (angiosperms, gymnosperms and pteridophytes), of these 498 are flowering plants. The park has many species of medicinal plants including Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Picrorhiza kurroa, Aconitum violaceum, Polygonatum multiflorum, Fritillaria roylei, and Podophyllum hexandrum.
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