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Why the Western Ghats is so important

The Western Ghats mountain range running down the south-west side of India is a treasure trove of wildlife.

Though it covers less than 6% of the land area of India, the Western Ghats contain more than 30% of all species of plant, fish, reptile, amphibian, bird and mammal found in the whole country.

It has particularly impressive populations of large mammals – for instance around 30% of all Asian elephants and around 18% of wild tigers, spread across a number of wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves and national parks. 

The Western Ghats are also the source of a lot of the rivers that supply water to millions of people.

As India's economy grows, increasing urbanisation, roads and rail are putting pressure on these areas.

Western Ghats

The Western Ghats mountain range extends down the western side of India from the River Tapti, north of Mumbai, to Tamil Nadu at the southern tip of India.

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About the Western Ghats

The Western Ghats hills run down the western side of India for about 1,600km, and have peaks that vary in height up to around 2,700m.

They stand as a barrier between the west coast and the rest of the Indian peninsula. They attract a high level of rainfall, helping make the area so biologically rich and geographically unique. Several important rivers run from them, including the Bhima, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri.

The Western Ghats have a range of environments, from tropical wet evergreen forests to grasslands containing medicinal plants and important genetic resources, such as wild relatives of grains, fruit and spices.

But the rising numbers of people living in and around the Western Ghats has led to loss of living space for wildlife, and poaching and infrastructure development also threaten wild tiger populations here.

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