Andaman & Nicobar Islands: Vegetation and Biodiversity

Andaman Islands

The islands extend from 6° to 14° North latitudes and from 92° to 94° East longitudes. The Andamans are separated from the Nicobar group by a channel (the Ten Degree Channel) some 150 km (93 mi) wide.

There are 572 islands in the territory having an area of 8,249 km2 (3,185 sq mi). Of these, about 38 are permanently inhabited. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732 m (2,402 ft). The only volcano in India, Barren Island, is located in Andaman and Nicobar. It is an active volcano and erupted in 2017.

The islands, comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area, are home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna species.

Vegetation and Biodiversity

1. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands have a tropical rainforest canopy. The Middle Andamans harbours mostly moist deciduous forests.North Andamans is characterised by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers.

2. The North Nicobar Islands (including Car Nicobar and Battimalv) are marked by the complete absence of evergreen forests, while such forests form the dominant vegetation in the central and southern islands of the Nicobar group.

Nicobar Islands

3. Grasslands occur only in the Nicobars, and while deciduous forests are common in the Andamans, they are almost absent in the Nicobars.

4. Among the larger mammals there are two endemic varieties of wild boar, Sus scrofa andamanensis from Andaman and Sus scrofa nicobaricus from Nicobar, which are protected by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (Schedule I).

5. Saltwater crocodile is also found in abundance.

6. The State Animal of Andaman is the dugong, also known as the sea cow, which can be found in Little Andaman.

7. Mount Harriet National Park is one of the richest areas of butterfly and moth diversity on these islands.

8. There are 96 wildlife sanctuaries, nine national parks and one biosphere reserve in these islands.

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