If there is one state in India that is renowned for its diversity of wildlife it is Andhra Pradesh. The state is strategically located in the central region of India and is a true representative of the magnificent flora and fauna of the country. With varied topography, right from the hills of Nallamala and the Eastern Ghats to the shores of Bay of Bengal, Andhra Pradesh supports diverse ecosystems, which, in turn, support a rich variety of wildlife.
The vegetation in the state is most dry deciduous with a blend of Pterocarpus, Teak, Anogeissus, Terminalias and Dalbergias. The Eastern Ghats are renowned for their biodiversity and one can find endemic plants and animals. Today, wildlife in Andhra Pradesh boasts of tigers, panthers, wolves, wild dogs, sloth bears, hyenas, black bucks, chinkaras, nilgais, cheetals, sambars and a wide range of birds and reptiles. The huge coastline of the state offers a nesting ground for sea turtles and the backwaters of Pulicat Lake provide feeding grounds for birds, such as grey pelicans and flamingoes. The estuaries of Godavari and Krishna rivers have mangroves, which support fishing cats and otters.
The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park in Visakhapatnam is located on the national highway and covers an area of 250 hectares. This is the second largest zoological park in the state, after Hyderabad Zoo. It boasts of a rich collection of flora and fauna, including some exotic species of animals from Australia. The Park has more than 400 varieties of fauna. The Park opened its doors to the public in 1972 and today offers deer safari, has five enclosures for monkeys and primates, special dens for lions and tigers, six enclosures for deer and eight specially designed enclosures for small mammals. The main attraction of Indira Gandhi Zoological Park is undoubtedly the big cats, in particular the white tiger.
Kolleru Bird Sanctuary is perhaps the best fresh water sanctuary in India. There is a host of wildlife within the sanctuary, which is located in the deltaic region between the rivers of Krishna and Godavari. The sanctuary is a haven for migratory birds, which fly all the way from Siberia, the Philippines, Australia and Egypt. During the winter season in India, these birds come to nest at the sanctuary. The sanctuary is situated about 65 kilometres from the city of Vijayawada and offers a wonderful opportunity to bird watches and nature lovers to see some really rare species of birds. Kolleru Bird Sanctuary was established in 1999 and is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act. The placid lake and the lush greenery makes it an ideal refuge for birds, such as red-chested pod chards, pintails, herons, egrets, migratory ducks, water birds, pelicans, teals, ibises and storks. It also is home to 63 species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs.
Located at the border of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Pulicat Sanctuary covers an area of 500 square kilometres. It is a brackish water lagoon, the second largest in India, and is situated along the coast of Bay of Bengal. The sanctuary attracts many migratory birds and also is a feeding and nesting ground for aquatic and terrestrial birds.The dry evergreen forest in the sanctuary provides the perfect environment for birds, such as flamigoes, pelicans, different varieties of storks, ibises, cormorants, egrets, ducks, pintails, terns, grey herons and sandpipers. Fish and invertebrates, such as prawn and molluscs can also be found here. Monitor lizards, cobras, Russell’s vipers and kraits are some of the reptiles that can be spotted at the Pulicat Sanctuary.
Sri Venkateshwara National Park is spread over two districts, Kadapa and Chittoor of Andhra Pradesh. It is spread over an area of 353 square kilometres and is located in Rajampet, Kadapa, Chandragiri, Ballapadu and Chittoor. Bound by the hills of Tirumala and Seshachalam, the Park is an oasis of lush green valleys, deep gorges, plateaus and steep slopes. It is home to some beautiful waterfalls too.The forest in the Park mainly is dry deciduous, but in patches, there are moist deciduous forests. With more than 1,500 flora species belonging to 176 families, the Park offers a safe haven to a number of mammals, birds and reptiles. The rare slender loris and the golden gecko can be spotted in the Park. Other animals, such s tree shrew, Indian giant squirrel, flying lizards, wild boar, nilgai, leopard, hyena, spotted deer, blackbuck, sloth bear, bison, mongoose, fox, civet, bears and sambar, also are present in the Park.