Some countries, lying wholly or partly within the tropics, are characterized by high species richness and more number of endemic species. These countries are known as Mega diverse countries. India is one of the identified mega diverse countries of the World.
With only 2.4% of the land area, and accounts for 7-8% of the recorded species of the world. Over 45,000 species of plants and 91,000 species of animals have been recorded so far.
India maintains this biodiversity while supporting 20% of the world’s human and cattle population. The wide diversity in physical features and climatic situations has resulted in a diversity of ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, wetlands, coastal and marine (mangroves and coral reefs) and deserts. Among these, the forest ecosystem in particular exhibits tremendous variability ranging from temperate alpine to tropical wet evergreen forests.
There are 16 major forest types in India and it is also one of the eight primary centres of the origin of cultivated plants and is rich in agricultural biodiversity.
India is an acknowledged centre of crop diversity, and holds 320 wild varieties of crop relatives mainly of rice, maize, millets, barley and brinjals.
About 114 breeds of domesticated animals (buffaloes, cattle, sheep, goat, camel, horses, donkeys, etc.) are also found in the country.
India also has 2 of the 34 identified hot spots of the world (Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas) , which are characterized by high degree of endemism and are therefore areas of global conservation concern.