India’s Western Ghats have been added to the prestigious list of the United Nation’s cultural agency, UNESCO’s world heritage sites.
The mountains cover an area of about 160,000 sq km (61,776 sq miles) stretching from India’s southern tip to Gujarat. The lush mountains are at risk of a biodiversity crisis due to rapidly increasing population, the BBC reports.
According to UNESCO, the forests include non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests and are home to at least 325 globally-threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species. The mountains are also recognised as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity, and its forests influence the Indian monsoons.
- The Western Ghats have 508 bird species, 16 of which are endemic.
- Nearly 10,000 Asian elephants live here.
- The rare nilgiri langur monkey lives here
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to add the Western Ghats — believed to have forests older than the Himalayas — to its World Heritage List, taking India’s tally of such sites to 29.
On July 1, the World Heritage committee, a 21-member body, met at St Petersburg, Russia, and included the Western Ghats on its list, along with 14 other sites around the world. About 17 nations, including Russia and Japan, participated in an elaborate discussion and backed the proposal to include the Ghats on this prestigious list.
Popularly known as ‘Sahyadri’ and ‘Malnad’ in local parlance, the Western Ghats mountain chain starts at the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and runs through the states of Maharashtra , Goa, Karnataka , Tamil Nadu and Kerala, ending at Kanyakumari . It is recognized as one of the world’s eight hottest hotspots of biological diversity that largely influences the Indian monsoon weather pattern.