Kerala’s Balance of Agriculture and Native Animals

kerala elephant

Sitting in the southwest of the country, Kerala has a lot to offer India in regards of diversity. Being that it is on the coast, it has a wet humid climate as opposed to the northern regions. One part of this diversity is noted in the animals that occupy the land. The elephant, Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, king cobra, and mugger crocodile are just a few of the rare species found in this southern region. Learning about the different species and how they can be protected is a very important part of keeping these animals thriving in today’s society. Since agriculture is so important to Kerala, it generally trumps every other decision made to this area. There needs to be a balance in the agriculture and surviving of nature to keep Kerala booming in all aspects.

kerala elephant

Elephants living in the wild in Kerala, India. They battle living conditions due to habitat destruction every day. Taken by Kalidas Pavithran.

Most of the animals that are found in this area are endemic. This means they are found only in the area in which they are native, and no where else. Since many of these animals meet a very special living criteria for food and climate, Kerala is the only place they can live naturally. Kerala experiences about 120-140 days of rain per year, which is very important to the local plant species that are found in this area. This is crucial to the plants which are the food for these animals. Many of these plants are also endemic, making them just as important to the land as the animals.

Every day, these rare animals are put into more and more danger due to damage people has caused. Deforestation is a huge issue for several of the native species. The bamboo is harvested very often, and supplies are never replenished. Habitat destruction comes in many forms though, not just deforestationf. Soil erosion is also a main problem close to the coast. The Indian ocean is a very powerful force of nature, and constantly erodes the land away.  Landslides are another issue for the Kerala area, mostly because of the heavy rains that occur in the summer months. The soil sometimes can’t absorb enough of the water, and in the high elevation regions, this causes a problem of landslides. Man-made causes can be prevented, and this is what we need to strive to work on.

The birds of Kerala are also a spectacular area of wildlife to be noted. There are over 475 known species of birds to this area, one of the highest numbers found in India by region. These birds range from larger size, such as the flamingos, to a miniature size, such as a hummingbird. There are birds of prey (like the osprey), and also birds which are the victim, like the hoopoe. Birdwatchers will find a paradise here unlike any other. However, these birds fall under the same characteristics as the mammals, suffering from deforestation and other habitat destruction.

sand plover kerala

The Sand Plover is a native bird to Kerala. Here one was spotted on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Taken by Shrikant Rao.

By postponing the deforestation of land used for agriculture, the animals would once again have a chance for survival. Agriculture needs to stop progressing in area with too much intensity to protect these rare species of both mammals and birds. The agriculture has taken Kerala to new heights, so it needs prioritization as well, but the balance needs to be found for both. If Kerala can find a way to allow both to coexist, then it really has a dynamic duo for all aspects.