The Eastern Ghats of India – In Depth

Eastern Ghats, an ancient orogenic belt formed by the collision of crustal rocks during the Archean Eon and became a part of the Indian sub continent during the Gondwana period because of continental drift which makes it way older than the Western Ghats. It contains rocks aging 2.9 billion years to 900 million years old. The Eastern Ghats holds a rich, complicated and interesting geological history may be because they evolved through long processes of magmatism, metamorphism and deformation.

This discontinuous mountain range passes through Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu sharing 25%, 40%, 5%, 5% and 25% of the Ghats respectively with a highest peak of 1822 m called Kattahi Betta in BR hills, Karnataka. These Ghats are made up of charnockites, granite gneisses, khondalites, metamorphic gneisses and quartzite rock formations with rich limestone, bauxite and iron ores.

The Eastern Ghats have a very unique mix of forest types like–

  • Dry evergreen forests,
  • Semi-evergreen forests,
  • Southern tropical dry mixed deciduous forests,
  • Dry savannah forests,
  • Southern tropical dry scrub forests,
  • Southern tropical thorn forests,
  • Carnatic umbrella thorn forests,
  • Southern subtropical hill forests,
  • Southern thorn scrub, and
  • Mangrove forests.

The rivers originating from the Eastern Ghats are–

  • Baitarani,
  • Budhabalanga,
  • Rushikulya,
  • Vamsadhara,
  • Palar,
  • Nagavali,
  • Champavathi,
  • Gosthani,
  • Sarada,
  • Sabari,
  • Sileru,
  • Tammileru,
  • Gundlakamma,
  • Pennai Yaru,
  • Swarnamukhi,
  • Kundu,
  • Vellar and,
  • Penna.

Brahmani, Godavari, Kaveri, Krishna, Mahanadi, Subarnarekha, Tungabhadra rivers flow through these Ghats.

Eastern Ghats is rich in biodiversity with 97 species of mammals, 490 species of birds, 119 species of reptiles, 34 species of amphibians, xx species of invertebrates and 2500 species of flowering plants.

These Ghats harbors many endemic species like the–

  • Large Rock Rat (Cremnomys elvira)- CR,
  • Jerdon’s Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus)- CR ,
  • Sharma’s Mabuya (Eutropis nagarjuni)- NT,
  • Ashwamedh supple skink (Eutropis ashwamedhi)- EN,
  • Madras Spotted Skink (Barkudia insularis)- EN,
  • Russell’s Legless Skink (Barkudia melanosticta)- DD,
  • Spotted Eastern Ghats Skink (Sepsophis punctatus)- LC,
  • Vosmer’s writhing skink (Riopa vosmaeri)- DD,
  • Golden Gecko (Calodactylodes aureus)- LC,
  • Nagarjunsagar Racer (Coluber bholanathi)- DD,
  • Gower’s Shieldtail (Rhinophis goweri)- CR,
  • Shevaroy Hills Earth Snake (Uropeltis shorttii)- CR.
  • Atylosia cajanifolia- EN,
  • Ceropegia spiralis- VU,
  • Crotalaria longipes- EN,
  • Cycas beddomei- VU,
  • Decaschistia rufa- EN,
  • Eriolaena lushingtonii- VU,
  • Heterostemma deccanense- EN,
  • Hildegardia populifolia- EN,
  • Indigofera barberi- DD,
  • Parahyparrhenia bellariensis- DD,
  • Phlebophyllum jeyporense- EN,
  • Phyllanthus narayanaswamii- EN,
  • Toxocarpus roxburghii- EN,
  • Trichosanthes anaimalaiensis- CR,
  • Vanilla wightiana- DD,
  • Wendlandia angustifolia- EX
  • Cycas beddomei- CR,
  • Decalepis hamiltonii- EN,
  • Hildegardia populifolia- VU,
  • Phyllanthus indofischeri- VU,
  • Pimpinella tirupatiensis- EN,
  • Pterocarpus santalinus- EN,
  • Shorea tumbaggaia- EN,
  • Syzygium alternifolium- EN,
  • Terminalia pallida- EN,
  • Urginea nagarjunae- EN,
  • Zingiber roseum- EN,
  • 57 species of Poaceae,
  • 55 species of Papilionaceae,
  • 47 species of Acanthaceae,
  • 36 species of Orchidaceae,
  • 25 species of Euphorbiaceae,
  • 18 species of Asclepiadaceae,
  • 17 species of Rubiaceae,
  • 16 species of Lamiaceae,
  • 17 species of Crotalaria,
  • 11 species of Habenaria,
  • 11 species of Leucas,
  • 9 species of Alysicarpus,
  • 9 species of Barleria,
  • 7 species of Andrographis,
  • 7 species of Argyreia,
  • 7 species ofChrysopogon,
  • 6 species of Dendrobium, and
  • 6 species of Rhynchosia.

In this 1131kms stretch of Ghats, lies 3 National parks, 24 Sanctuaries and 4 Reserves which
are –

  • Bhitarkanika National Park, Odisha,
  • Simlipal National Park, Odisha,
  • Sri Venkateswara National Park, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Balimela Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Baisipalli Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Kapilash Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Kondakameru Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Kotagarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Lakhari Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Saptasajya Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha,
  • Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Koundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Kambalakonda Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Rollapadu Bird Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh,
  • Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka,
  • Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu,
  • Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu,
  • Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana,
  • Satkosia Tiger Reserve, Odisha,
  • Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu, and
  • Sunabeda Tiger Reserve, Odisha.

Such rich in biodiversity and endemism forest regions are facing a major threat because of
fragmentation of forests, encroachment of lands, agricultural practices, invasive species, climate
crisis, poaching, mining, tourism, negligence and the list goes on. From the way of formation,
geology to the diversity of species Eastern Ghats is filled with treasures of the natural world and
should not be looked down upon and should never be called the “poor” sister of the Western
Ghats.

References:
http://suvratk.blogspot.com/2019/04/eastern-ghats-new-kid-on-block.html#:~:text=The%20Easte
rn%20Ghats%20on%20the,location%20within%20the%20Indian%20continent.
https://www.iucnredlist.org/species
https://scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=rjb.2007.176.185#:~:text=Endemic%20tree%20species%20distri
buted%20in,Dimorphocalyx%20kurnoolensis%2C%20Eriolaena%20lushingtonii%2C%20Hildeg
ardia
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Thiruvengadam-Venkatesan/publication/322331835_Insect
_Community_Associated_with_the_Wetland_Ecosystem_of_Terai_Region_West_Bengal_India
_Diversity_and_Conservation_Approach/links/5a54a3780f7e9bbc105a6706/Insect-Community-
Associated-with-the-Wetland-Ecosystem-of-Terai-Region-West-Bengal-India-Diversity-and-Cons
ervation-Approach.pdf#page=144
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sudhakar-Reddy-C/publication/259005936_Vegetational_D
iversity_and_Endemism_in_Eastern_Ghats_India/links/00b49535cae3fe6156000000/Vegetation
al-Diversity-and-Endemism-in-Eastern-Ghats-India.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Ghats

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