Indian roller (Coracias benghalensis), the state bird
Young sapling of sandalwood (Santalum album), the state tree

The state of Karnataka in South India has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 38,720 km2 which constitutes 55 of the geographical area of the state. These forests support 25% of the elephant population and 20% of the tiger population of India. Many regions of Karnataka are still unexplored and new species of flora and fauna are still found. The mountains of the Western Ghats in the western region of Karnataka are a biodiversity hotspot. Two sub-clusters of the Western Ghats, Talacauvery and Kudremukh, are on a tentative list of sites that could be designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The Bandipur and Nagarahole national parks which fall outside these subclusters were included in the Nilgiri biosphere reserve in 1986, a UNESCO designation. In the Biligiriranga Hills the Eastern Ghats meet the Western Ghats. The state bird and state animal of Karnataka are Indian roller and the Indian elephant. The state tree and state flower are sandalwood (Santalum album) and lotus. Karnataka is home to 524 tigers (around 12% of tigers in world).

National parks

Lotus, the state flower
Lone Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus), the state animal, in Nagarahole National Park
The tiger (Panthera tigris). Karnataka has around 10% of the tiger population in India
Dodda Alada Mara, a giant 400-year-old banyan near Bangalore
Peacock (Pavo cristatus) in Bandipur National Park
The Malabar gliding frog (Rhacophorus malabaricus) found in the Western Ghats
Male gaur (Bos gaurus) in Nagarahole National Park

Anshi National Park

This park is present in the Uttara Kannada district and spreads over an area of 250 km2. The elevation varies from 27 to 937 metres (89 to 3,074 ft), and temperatures from 15.5 °C to 45 °C. Average annual rainfall is about 4,700 millimetres (185 in) .

Bandipur National Park

Main article: Bandipur National Park

The park is within Gundlupet taluk of Chamarajanagar District covering over 800 km2 and adjoins the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In 1973, Bandipur became one of the first of India's tiger reserves and became a part of Project Tiger. In 1977, an intention was declared under the Wildlife Protection Act to notify it as a national park.

Bannerghatta National Park

The park is in Bengaluru urban district and Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagara district covers over 260.51 km2 of area. Elevation varies from 740 to 1,034 metres (2,428 to 3,392 ft), temperature from 20 to 35 °C and the average annual rainfall is 700 millimetres (28 in).

Kudremukh National Park

Spread over an area of 600.32 km2, it encompasses regions in the districts of Dakshina Kannada, Udupi and Chikmagalur. Altitude varies from 134 to 1,892 metres (440 to 6,207 ft). The park has a pleasant climate, with temperatures ranging from 17 to 28 °C. Annual rainfall varies from 1,778 to 6,350 millimetres (70 to 250 in), with an average of 4,000 millimetres (157 in). The rivers Nethravati, Tunga and Bhadra are believed to originate here at Ganga Moola.

Nagarahole National Park

Also known as Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarahole) National Park, the park gets its name from the Nagara Hole (Snake River in Kannada) which runs eastwards through its centre. Nagarahole river flows through the park before it joins the Kabini river that also acts as a boundary between Nagarahole and Bandipur. The park covers an area of about 575 km2. The Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary of Kerala adjoins to the Southeast.

Wildlife sanctuaries

The great Indian hornbill (Buceros bicornis), found in the forests of Karnataka
Spot-billed pelican, (Pelecanus philippensis), a bird found in the bird sanctuaries of Karnataka
Rufous babbler (Turdoides subrufus) at Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary

Karnataka has 19 wildlife sanctuaries:

Bird sanctuaries

A pair of painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala) in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Pied kingfisher, (Ceryle rudis), in Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary

Dangers to flora and fauna

Flora and fauna in Karnataka are threatened. Issues include poaching, human–wildlife conflict, habitat destruction, pollution and introduction of invasive species.


Despite the best efforts of conservation activists, poaching remains one of the serious problems affecting the flora and fauna in the state. Between 1997 and 2001, a 98 elephants were poached in Karnataka.[15] Poaching has also affected the breeding of turtles like olive ridley on the beaches of Karnataka as well as otters on the river banks. Tigers are also another species that are threatened by poachers.[16] Sandalwood, famed for its sculptures and its aroma, is frequently poached out of the forests of Karnataka. Teakwood, famed for furniture, is another species affected by this problem. Staff shortage, lack of adequate funds and unscientific anti-poaching camps are some of the reasons quoted for continued poaching activities.[16]

Habitat destruction

Some of the activities that are causing a destruction of habitat of flora and fauna in Karnataka are:

Human–wildlife conflict

Due to the loss of habitat, more and more species of fauna have started to venture into human habitation causing a conflict between humans and other animals. A typical species affected by this is the elephant which ventures out of the forest into human cultivations thereby eating or destroying the crops. In some cases, the elephants have also caused human deaths like an incident that happened in Hassan district where a villager was trampled to death.[18] Precautionary measures (sometimes illegally) are taken by humans to prevent such mishaps like electric fencing have also led to disastrous consequences like electrocution of fauna.[19]


Release of industrial waste and human effluents into rivers have caused significant damage to species that reside in rivers and riverbanks. Air pollution is also a significant cause of concern in metros like Bangalore where it has been found that air pollution is discolouring foliage including those of ornamental plants.[20] A comparison of the lichen flora of the garden Lal Bagh in Bangalore has revealed that 18 of the 22 species noted in 1980 were no longer present in 1997.[15] Pollution in rivers like Kabini, Kaveri and Ghataprabha has caused sharp reduction in populations of bird species, including beneficial insectivorous birds like drongos, as well as honeybees.[15]

Invasive species

Introduction of new species into a habitat has caused serious consequences to the existing species. A typical example is the introduction of the African catfish (Clarias gariepinus) in the lakes and rivers of Karnataka. This is a carnivorous fish and has caused serious damage to the indigenous fauna.[15] Weeds like Eupatorium, Lantana and Parthenium have invaded large tracts of land causing destruction. An increase in Eupatorium is attributed as one of the causes for the spread of the deadly Kyasanur forest disease (which has a morbidity rate of 10%) among humans since it harbours tick populations that are vectors for this disease.[15] Eucalyptus plantations in the Ranibennur blackbuck sanctuary have seriously harmed the extremely rare great Indian bustard.[15]

Conservation efforts

Various conservation activities are in progress to protect the biodiversity present in Karnataka. These activities are mostly done by the Forest Department of the State of Karnataka and other voluntary organisations.

Relocation of human population

The presence of human habitation within the core area of reserved forests poses many problems like human–wildlife conflict and destruction of habitat due to agriculture and cattle grazing. Systematic efforts have been made to relocate some of this population into proper zones outside the protected area. An example is the relocation of some villagers from Bhagawathi and Nassehalla habitations within the Kudremukh National Park to safer regions outside it.[21]

Usage of technology

New scientific methods are being used to protect the flora and fauna. Some of these are:

Staff empowerment

It is highly important to keep up the morale of forest wardens and other staff members involved in anti-poaching activities and field trips. It is also necessary to keep them up-to-date on the technology and wildlife related laws. The following steps were implemented to address this issue:[23]

Recently discovered species

Many areas of Karnataka, especially in the forests of Malnad region are unexplored and new species of flora and fauna are discovered periodically. Some of the new species of flora discovered in Karnataka include Paracautleya bhatii (a ginger) and Isachne veldkampii (a grass), both of which were discovered near Manipal in Udupi district.[24] Two species of algae, Cosmarium bourrellyi and Cosmarium desikacharyi were discovered in a paddy field in Belgaum.[25] Other new species of flora discovered in Karnataka include Isoetes udupiensis[24] (a pteridophyte) and Pisolithus indicus (a fungus).[26]

Some of the new species of fauna discovered include two species of ants, Dilobocondyla bangalorica which was discovered on the campus of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore[27] and Discothyrea sringerensis which was discovered near Sringeri.[28] Three new species of frogs; Philautus luteolus, Philautus tuberohumerus[29] and Nyctibatrachus petraeus[30] have been discovered in Karnataka. Explorations in the Sharavathi river have yielded new fish species like Batasio sharavatiensis[31] (a bagrid catfish), Schistura nagodiensis[32] and Schistura sharavathiensis. Another fish species, Puntius coorgensis[33] has been discovered near Bhagamandala in the Kaveri river. Some other species of fauna discovered in Karnataka include two species of whiteflies, Distinctaleyrodes setosus[34] and Aleurocanthus arecae[35] and a caecilian, Gegeneophis madhavai.[36] Explorations in the soil around the Linganamakki reservoir has revealed eleven new species of earthworms.[37]

Endangered species

Shorea roxburghii, an endangered rainforest tree found in Karnataka

Karnataka is the home of few critically endangered species of flora that include evergreen trees like Dipterocarpus bourdilloni, Hopea erosa and Hopea jacobi, Croton lawianus (a small tree) and Pinnatella limbata (a type of moss). Some of the critically endangered species of fauna found in Karnataka include Gyps indicus (the Indian vulture) and two species of frogs, Indirana gundia (found only in Gundia range, Sakleshpur) and Micrixalus kottigeharensis (found only near Kottigehara, Chikkamagaluru district).

Some of the endangered species of flora include evergreen trees like Cynometra bourdillonii, Cynometra travancorica, Hopea glabra, Hopea parviflora, Hopea ponga, Hopea racophloea, Hopea wightiana, Shorea roxburghii and Tarenna agumbensis and flowering plants like Glochidion pauciflorum, Glochidion tomentosum, Ixora lawsoni and Syzygium stocksii. Other endangered trees found in Karnataka include Isonandra stocksii, Kingiodendron pinnatum, Maesa velutina, Myristica magnifica, Rapanea striata and Flacourtia latifolia (synonym Xylosma latifolia).

Endangered species of fauna found in Karnataka include the Bengal tiger, Indian elephant, lion-tailed macaque, olive ridley turtle and dhole, the Indian wild dog. Many endangered species of amphibians are found here including frogs, Indirana brachytarsus, Microhyla sholigari, Minervarya sahyadris, Nyctibatrachus aliciae, Nyctibatrachus hussaini, Nyctibatrachus sanctipalustris, Philautus charius, Philautus wynaadensis, Ramanella mormorata and Rhacophorus lateralis and a toad, Bufo beddomii. Other endangered species of fauna include Hipposideros hypophyllus (the Kolar leaf-nosed bat) and Pseudomulleria dalyi (a mollusc).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k A Walk on the Wild Side, An Information Guide to National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries of Karnataka, Compiled and Edited by Dr. Nima Manjrekar, Karnataka Forest Department, Wildlife Wing, October 2000
  2. ^ "Mysore Nature - Birds of Mysore Area".
  3. ^ a b c d e "Bird Checklist - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 18 June 2012.
  4. ^ Adichunchanagiri Wildlife Sanctuary Archived 2014-10-07 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Bird Checklist - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 25 April 2012.
  6. ^ Arabithittu Wildlife Sanctuary Archived 2012-10-19 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Bird Checklist - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 9 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Melkote Temple Wildlife Sanctuary - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 29 October 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  9. ^ "Bird Checklist - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 31 March 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 9 May 2012.
  11. ^ A brief overview of Mandagadde bird sanctuary is provided by Pramod Mellegatti (21 August 2001). "Will floods prevent seasonal migration of 'alien' birds?". The Hindu. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  12. ^ "Kokkare Bellur - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  13. ^ "Environ - Mysore Nature". Archived from the original on 18 June 2012. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
  14. ^ A description of Kokkare Bellur has been provided by Sharath S. Srivatsa (15 February 2006). "Lending a helping hand". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 4 September 2006. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g A report on the environment of Karnataka and action plan thereof is discussed by Madhav Gadgil; et al. "Karnataka State of Environment Report and Action Plan, Biodiversity Sector" (PDF). ENVIS Technical Report 16. Environmental Information System, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  16. ^ a b Poaching of a tiger in Nagarhole National Park is mentioned by "Tigers falling victim to 'poor' anti-poaching drive". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 3 April 2006. Archived from the original on 8 June 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  17. ^ A brief description of mining at Kudremukh is provided by Praveen Bhargav & Niren Jain (4 January 2004). "Battle for Kudremukh". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 10 March 2004. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  18. ^ Destruction caused by elephants in Hassan district is mentioned by S. Rajendran (25 December 2006). "State seeks Centre's nod for translocating elephant herd". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 3 January 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  19. ^ Electrocution of an elephant in Chamarajanagar district is mentioned by "Elephant electrocuted". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 2 February 2007. Archived from the original on 17 February 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  20. ^ Air pollution in Bangalore discolouring plants in mentioned by Roja Kandath (14 February 2001). "Pollution is robbing blooms of their colour". The Times of India. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  21. ^ Relocation of villagers from Kudremukh National Park has been mentioned by K. Ullas Karanth, Niren Jain and N. Samba Kumar. "Tiger Habitat Consolidation in Kudremukh" (PDF). A Final Report to 21st Century Tiger from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). 21st Century Tiger. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 August 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  22. ^ Using satellites for detecting forest fires in Karnataka is mentioned by "Eye-in-the-sky tech to combat forest fires". Deccan Herald. 9 April 2005. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  23. ^ a b c Some conservation methods being used in Karnataka to protect flora and fauna are mentioned by Shekar Dattatri. "Tigers in India A chance for survival". Wildlife First. Retrieved 8 May 2007.
  24. ^ a b Discovery of Isoetes udupiensis has been mentioned by "New plant species found". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 11 May 2005. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  25. ^ Discovery of new algae species is mentioned by U D Bongale (1989). "New taxa of Cosmarium Corda (Desmidiaceae) from Karnataka State, India". Hydrobiologia. 171 (2): 103–106. doi:10.1007/BF00008169. S2CID 42836704.
  26. ^ K. Natarajan; G. Senthilarasu; V. Kumaresan; Taiana Riviere (25 June 2005). "Diversity in ectomycorrhizal fungi of a dipterocarp forest in Western Ghats" (PDF). Current Science. 88 (12). Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  27. ^ Discovery of a new species of ant in the IISc campus, Bangalore is discussed by Thresiamma Varghese (2006). "A new species of the ant genus Dilobocondyla (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from India, with notes on its nesting behaviour Catalog of Fishes" (PDF). Oriental Insects. 40: 23–32. doi:10.1080/00305316.2006.10417454. S2CID 73664638. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  28. ^ Discovery of a new species of ant in Sringeri is discussed by Merry Zacharias & Priyadarshanan Dharma Rajan (2004). "Discothyrea sringerensis (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) a new ant species from India" (PDF). Zootaxa. 484: 1–4. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.484.1.1. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  29. ^ Raviprasad Kamila (20 February 2007). "Two new species of frogs found". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2007.
  30. ^ Indraneil Das and Krushnamegh Kunte (2005). "New Species of Nyctibatrachus (Anura: Ranidae) from Castle Rock, Karnataka State, Southwest India" (PDF). Journal of Herpetology. 39 (3): 465–470. doi:10.1670/198-04a.1. S2CID 86102955. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 September 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  31. ^ Discovery of Batasio sharavatiensis has been mentioned by Anuradha Bhatt & K.C. Jayaram (February 2004). "A new species of the genus BATASIO BLYTH (Siluriformes: Bagridae) from Sharavathi river, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka". Zoos' Print Journal. 19 (2): 1339–1342. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.19.2.1339-42.
  32. ^ Details regarding new fishes of genus Schistura found in Sharavathi river is provided by Sreekantha, K.V.Gururaja, K.Remadevi, T.J.Indra, T.V. Ramachandra (April 2006). "Two new fish species of the genus Schistura Mcclelland (Cypriniformes: Balitoridae) from Western Ghats, India" (PDF). Zoos' Print Journal. 21 (4): 2211–2216. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.1386.2211-6. Retrieved 7 May 2007.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ Details regarding Puntius coorgensis is provided by Jayaram (1982). "Catalog of Fishes". Pisces Reference. Fishbase. Retrieved 7 May 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ Discovery of a new genus and species of whitefly is discussed by A.K. DUBEY & R. SUNDARARAJ (2006). "Distinctaleyrodes setosus Dubey & Sundararaj (Sternorrhyncha: Aleyrodidae), a new whitefly genus and species from India" (PDF). Zootaxa. 1154: 35–39. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.1154.1.3. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  35. ^ Discovery of a whitefly in areca plantations is discussed by B. VASANTHARAJ DAVID AND M. MANJUNATHA (2003). "A new species of Aleurocanthus Quaintance & Baker (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) from Areca catechu in India, with comments on the status of Aleurodes nubilans Buckton" (PDF). Zootaxa. 173: 1–4. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.173.1.1. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  36. ^ Discovery of a caecilian has been discussed by GOPALAKRISHNA BHATTA & R. SRINIVASA (2004). "A new species of Gegeneophis Peters (Amphibia: Gymnophiona: Caeciliidae) from the surroundings of Mookambika Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka, India" (PDF). Zootaxa. 644: 1–8. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.644.1.1. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
  37. ^ Discovery of new species of earthworms is mentioned by Julka; et al. "New species of earthworms found in Western Ghats of Karnataka" (PDF). Zootaxa. 486: 2. Retrieved 7 May 2007.