Bulging with a population of 1 billion people (that's one thousand million for anyone counting), India seems the last place you might expect to revel in nature's splendour. In fact, the Indian subcontinent's 5 million square kilometres brim with wild creatures great and small, including 365 species of mammals, 1260 birds, and over 180 reptiles. As for plant life, botanists divide vegetation into no less than 16 distinct types, ranging from tropical evergreens such as long-leafed pines and bhutan cypresses to the thorny, xerophytic vegetation of the eastern deserts. Here, orchids, rhododendrons, and the cobra-like snake lily burst from page after colourful page. Monsoons dictate the flowering and fruiting of many of these plants, along with the flight patterns of migrating birds in search of abundant insects and vegetation.
Though tougher to view than their African counterparts (they forage in forests rather than on the open savannah), India's big game is easily as spectacular. Thanks to Gerald Cubitt's superb photography, you can feast your eyes on magnificent white tigers (not an albino but a "recessive mutant"), elephants, deer and stags, brown and black bears, goat-antelope, scaly anteaters, and the ferocious clouded leopard, with its abnormally long canines.
Let Wild India help you discover a land apart from the crowded downtown of Calcutta. --Martha Silano [via]