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Flora and Fauna; Punjab Province


Flora; Punjab Province

Hilly Tracts (Punjab)

In the upper reaches of the Murree hills, the main trees are deodar (Cedar deodar), biar (Pinus encelsa), paludar (Abics smilhiana), banangi (Querreus lassiflora), babul (Acacia nilotica), jand or sufaid kikar (Prosopis cineraria), karir or karil (Capparis decidua), khair or kumta (Acacia Senegal), chir (Pinus longi flora), kao (wild olives), phulai (Acacia modesta), drek (Melia semper virens), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus cinerea), oak (quercus) and sanatha (Dodona viscosa). In the Piedmont Plains, shisham (Dilbergia sissoo), toot (Morus marrceae), drek (Molia simper virens), phulai (Acacia modesta), beri (Zizphus jojoba), papal (Ficus religiosa), kikar (Acacia Arabica), and jand (Prosopis juliflora) are commonly found. The most common type of grass is deb (amuricatus). Floral varieties include kuchnar, wild pomegranate, black berries, cranberries, and wild pears.

In addition, a lot of medicinal plants are commonly found in the hilly tracts.

Potowar Plateau (Punjab)

Flora includes van (Salvadora abeoides), karir (Capparis aphylla), jand (Prosopis spicigera), and malla (Zizyphus nummularia). The flora of the riverine areas includes kikar (Acacia Arabica) and shisham (Dilbergio sissoo). The flora of the forests is of dry, deciduous, scrub type. Phulai (Acacia modesta), kau or wild olives (Oleo cuspidate), sanatha gugura (Monotheca buxifolia) and Pataki (Gymonospo riaroyleana) are the main species. The dominant grass species of the area include sarilala (Heteropogan contortus), khawai (Cymbopogan jwaranncusa), mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) and karir (Capparis aphylla). These plant and grass species are found throughout the Potowar area.

Plains (Punjab)

The most common trees of the plains are shisham (Dilbergio sissoo), kikar or babul (Acacia Arabica), pipal (Ficus religiosa), banyan or bohar (Ficus indica), mulberry (Morus alba), aam (Mangifera indica), siris (Albizzia lebbek), jamolan (Engenia jambolana), lasura (Teccoma unclulata), amaltas (Cassia amaltas), jand (Prosopis specigera), kareel or karir (Capparis aphylla), farash (Tamarix articulate), jal or vann (Salvadora abeoides), okan (Cylicodiscus gabunensis), beri (Zizypus jujube), neem (Melia indica), dates (Phenix doctylifera) and bhan (Populas euphratica). Drek or bukain (Melia azerdarach or virens), sohanjna (Moring ptorygosperma) and harnali trees are also common.

Some of the exotic trees of the Punjab plains are sumbul (Ceiba pentandra), bael (Aegle marmelos), dhak (Butea monosperma), kuchnar (Bauhinia variegate), imli (Tamarindus indica), amaltas (Cassia fistula), bahera (Terminalia bellerica), arjun (Terminalia arjuna), bana or bamboo (Bambuseae), sufaida (Manilkara zapota), aam or mango (Mangifera indica) and guava (Psidium guajava).

Most common flowers are nilofar (water lily), kanwal or lotus, kundar or Olibanum (also luban in Urdu), singhara (water chestnut), and water weed (Hydrililla verticillata and Vallisneria spiralis) are common water plants.

Wild plants include aak (Calotropis amiltonit), lana (Suda ruiteasa) phog (Calligonum polygonoides), khair (Acacia chundra), piazi or wild onion (Asphodelus tenuifoliius), tumma or jand (Prosopis juliflora), wild rose or Rosa (Woodsii Lindl), puth kanda (Litsaea chinensia), pohli (Carthamus oxyacantha), niazboo or tulsi (Carthamus oxyacantha), pudina or mint (Menthe species) and bathu (Chenopodium album).

Desert Areas (Punjab)

The desert area or Cholistan in Punjab is in the extreme southeast of the province and is part of the Great Thar Desert. The flora of Cholistan is unique because of its variety and richness. The indigenous trees of Cholistan are jand (Prosopis spicegera), karir or karril (Capparis aphylla), jal or vann (Savadora obeides), red lei or philchhli (Tamarix gallica), kallar lei (Tamarix species), okan (Tamarix dioca), babul (Acacia eburna), ber (Zizyphus jujube), phog (Calligonum polygonoides), khar (Acacia chundra), khavi or lemon grass (Cymbopogon flexuosus), khip or broom bush (Leptadenia pyrotechnica Forssk. Decne), and seewan or false teak (Gmelina arborea). In addition, a large variety of medicinal plants are also found in the desert including puth kanda (Achyranthes aspera), boil (Aerva javanica), lal saag (Amaranthus trilocular), peela dhatoora (Argemone mexicana), and sanna makki (Cassia senna). The area generally supports a desert scrub type of vegetation. There is a surface layer of perennial grasses.

Fauna; Punjab province

Mountainous Areas (Punjab)

The Himalayan foothills and the Potowar region, including the Salt Range and Kala Chitta Range, are covered with scrub forests, which, at one time, harbored tigers, leopards, and other wild cats. Since the scrub forests have now been reduced to scanty growth in most places, these animals are now almost extinct. Medium-sized animals like the Punjab urial, barking deer, goral, chinkara, wolves, fox, wild boars, small monkeys, partridges (grey and black), see-see, ducks, geese, quail, and chakor are still supported in these scrub forest habitats. A variety of songbird fauna also occurs in these areas.

The Margalla Hills National Park houses leopard, grey goral, barking deer, wild boar, Asiatic leopard, jackal, red fox, fruit bat, porcupine, and even gazelle, pheasants, spotted doves, Egyptian vultures, falcons, hawks and Russell’s viper, Indian cobra, and saw-scaled viper.

Lal Suhanra National Park houses black buck, long-eared hedgehog, nilgai antelope, chinkara gazelle, hog deer, red fox, Bengal fox, golden jackal, porcupine, caracal cat, mongoose, jungle cat, Indian wolf, wild boar, honey badger or ratel, little civet, Indian (black-naped) hare, smooth-coated otter, Indian rhinoceros, and houbara bustard.

Potowar Area (Punjab)

The riverine forests of the Potowar region support a variety of wildlife like the urial, chinkara gazelle, wild pigs, wolves, foxes, wild cats, and peacocks.

Plain Areas (Punjab)

Vast Indus flood plains have been cleared of natural vegetation to grow crops. Very little wildlife habitat has been left untouched. Only animals like the jackal, mongoose, jungle cat, civet cat, scaly anteater, desert cat, and the wild hare thrive in these areas. Hog deer and chinkara deer are found in riverine tracts. Crop residues and wild growth support reasonable populations of black and grey partridges.

Wolves and wild pigs are common, as well as wild boar, hare, porcupines, and hedgehog. A large variety of game birds such as the Great Indian Bustard, houbara bustard (tiloor), pintail, common sand grouse, black partridge, quail (several varieties), kunj and nester (pigeons) are common. A large variety of ducks, water fowls, and other migratory birds can be found on the banks of rivers, canals and other water reservoirs/ bodies. A large variety of snakes and wild lizards still abound.

Desert Areas/ Cholistan Area (Punjab)

Wolves, deer, black buck, blue bull, fox, jackals, hare, wild cat, mongoose, shrew, wild rats, larks, owls, eagles, wild pigeons, sparrows, crows, kites, parrots, sand grouse, and quails are still found in abundance.

A large variety of lizards like the monitor lizard (goh), varanus monitor (kirra), uromaslix (Sahna or Sanda), chameleons, common wall lizard, and desert lizard are some of the varieties of lizards. Kansh, kirla, and sanaha are poisonous lizards. Common snakes are kala mushki, sangchoor, dhobi, ludi, kharpa, and jalebi, sah pina, phanyar, naag or cobra, tirmar, phullan, jharoha, ghora, sambal, wains, kulsar, kaignag, and chit kannan.

Mammals found in the swamp areas are pigs, hog deer, otter, jackal, fox, wolf, and bullan, chinkara deer, ravine deer, wild ass, wild cat (caracal), desert rat (gerbil), desert hedgehog, porcupine, hare, fox, jackal, hyenas, wolves, and desert mongoose.

Birds include the peacock, storks, purple moorhen (jal kukar), common teel, water fowl (murghabi), magpie, babblers, kal-chirr, and weaving birds. Other common birds are houbara bustard, sand grouse (tilyar), partridges, and falcon.

Alligators, tortoises, crocodiles, common frog, rana tigrina, and toads abound in River Sutlej. The following chart shows some common birds, as well as migratory birds found in various parts of the province:

Common birds
cheer pheasant white crested khalij peafowl black partridge
grey partridge chakor see-see common quail
collard dove blue rock pigeon hoopoe various kinds of parrots
black and white-cheeked nightingale woodpecker starling swallow
white wagtail green pigeon crows pheasant
red vented nightingale Indian roller mynah cuckoo
pied kingfisher white breasted kingfisher spotted owlet red-wattled lapwing
green bee-eater weaving birds
Common Migratory birds
Indian sand grouse imperial sand grouse houbara bustard demoiselle crane
common crane greater flamingo greyleg goose bar-headed goose
brahminy duck (surkhab) common shell duck mallard wigeon
stoveler garganey marbled teal common teal
lessor whistling teal white-headed duck

Table 1.11 Punjab Fauna: Common and Migratory Birds