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Odisha (earlier spelt as Orissa), situated along east coast of the peninsular India, having 480 kms long coast line in the east (Bay of Bengal) is endowed with numerous hills, hillocks, myriads of waterfalls, varied biodiversity extending over four Biographic zones i.e., Northern plateau, Eastern Ghats, Central Table lands and Coastal plains.


The broad physical types of the state include coastal plains, the middle mountainous region, the rolling uplands, the river valleys and quiet plateaus. Most of the forest belongs to two broad types i.e. tropical moist deciduous and tropical dry deciduous forests. However, there are other types which are very distinct in their nature and character and they are semi-evergreen forests, littoral swamps and mangroves. The mangroves (total area: 203 as per S.F.I. Report, 2007) although occur in a very small area along the Brahmani-Baitarani delta and Mahanadi delta constitute one of the most important forest types. The bio-diversity of this forest types in Odisha is considered to be better than any such area in the Indian mainland. These different types of forests provide ideal habitats for a large variety of wildlife, both aquatic and terrestrial including the arboreal as well as the transitional amphibious forms.


Eighteen Sanctuaries, a National Park (Bhitarakanika) and one proposed National Park (Similipal) constitute the Protected Area network of Odisha that covers 6611.12 of land area which is 4.25% of the geographical area and 11.37% of the forest area of the state. Added to this is also a stretch of 20km wide marine habitat of 1408 sq.kms of seascape in Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary. People's protection effort for the Blackbuck in Betnoi-Balipadar area of Ganjam district was taken into cognizance.


Bhitarkanika National Park was finally notified in the year 1998, and the notification of Similipal proposed National Park was issued in two phases in 1980 and in 1986.


There are 19 species of amphibians, 110 species of reptiles, 473 species of birds and 86 species of mammals so far identified and listed in our state in addition to large varieties of fish (about 300 species- fresh water, estuarine and marine) and invertebrate fauna. According to IUCN RED DATA BOOK-1997 the threatened species of Reptiles, Birds and Mammals in Odisha include 17 species, 15 species and 22 species respectively.


Though the tribes of Odisha belong to three linguistic divisions, yet they have lots of socio-cultural similarities between them. These commonalities signify homogeneity of their cultures and together they characterize the notion or concept of tribalism. Tribal societies share certain common characteristics and by these they are distinguished from complex or advanced societies. In India tribal societies had apparently been outside the main historical current of the development of Indian Civilization for centuries. Hence tribal societies manifest such cultural features which signify a primitive level in socio-cultural parameter.


Some of the important animals seen in Odisha are:



Tiger, Leopard, Wild Dog. Wolf, Elephant, Gaur, Nilgai, Ratel, Sloth-bear, Wild Boar, Sambar, Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, Mouse deer, Blackbuck, Four-horned Antelope, Dolphin.


Peafowl, Red-jungle fowl, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Gull, Fishing Eagle, Grebe, Adjutant Stork, Spoonbill, Jacana, Lapwing.


King Cobra, Python, Mono-cellate Cobra, Bi-cellate Cobra, Marine turtles like Olive Ridley; Freshwater Turtles like Ganges soft-shelled turtle, Chitra Turtle; and Tortoises like Star Tortoise, Elongated Tortoise; all three species of Indian Crocodilians; limbless skink; Fat-tailed Gecko; Indian chameleon; Water monitor, Yellow Monitor, etc.



Mahsheer in hill streams, Freshwater Shark.


Sea turtle : About 50% of the total world population of Olive Ridleys that equals to about 90% of the Indian population of sea turtles uses the Odisha coasts for nesting.