The Western Ghats are second only to the Eastern
The Western Ghats are second only to the Eastern Himalaya as a treasure trove of biological diversity in India. Originally recognized as among the several global ‘hotspots of biodiversity‛, the Western Ghats along with its geographical extension in the wet zone of Sri Lanka are now also considered one of the eight ‘hottest hot spots’ of biodiversity (Myers et al. 2000). The Western Ghats receive heavy precipitation of 2000 mm or more a year. The eastern slopes of the Ghats are much drier than the Western face. The western slopes of the Ghats have a natural cover of evergreen forest, which changes to moist and then dry deciduous types as one comes to the eastern slopes. The vegetation reaches its highest diversity towards the southern tip in Kerala with its high statured, rich tropical rain forests. The great topographic heterogeneity (from sea level to 2695 m at its highest point, the Anaimudi peak) and a strong rainfall gradient (annual precipitation of700 cm alogwest-facing slopes) combine to give rise to a tremendous diversity of life forms and vegetation types in Western Ghats. Many of these are critical habitats for plants and animals.