Meghalaya is a paradise to the botanists for its variedly rich concentration of interesting and valuable flora. It is also no less a happy hunting ground to the zoologists for its interesting, rare and diverse faunal wealth.
Meghalaya is considered by many biologists to have been the gateway through which many species of Indo-Chinese origin, particularly mammals migrated to Peninsular India. It is said that about 50% of the total number of mammal genera found in the entire Indian sub-continent can be seen in Meghalaya and its adjoining states in the Northeast. Out of the above, nine genera of mammals, such as Tupaia, Rhizomys, Cannomys, Chiropodomys, Micromys, etc occur only in Meghalaya and its adjacent areas.
Some of the most interesting animals found in Meghalaya are:
In the forests of Meghalaya, specially in lower altitudes, multifarious species of birds can be seen in abundance. Some of the common birds found in Meghalaya include Hoopoe, long tailed Broadbill, Scarlet Minivet, Burmese Roller, Blue Throated Barbet, red veted Bulbul, Himalayan black Bulbul, Himalayan whistling Thrush, Spotted Forktail, black-breasted Kalij Pheasant, red jungle Fowl, Mynas and Turtle Dove. Besides, Hornbills including the Great Indian Hornbill, Florican, Owl, Black Drongo and many other birds are also found.
Reptile population in Meghalaya includes lizards and snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous. Important ones include Indian Cobra, King Cobra, Coral Snake, Vipers, Python, blind Snake, Copperback, red-necked Kulback, and Green tree Racer.
Besides mammals, birds and reptiles, Meghalaya has a number of amphibians and fishes and insects. Amphibians like frogs, toads etc. and fishes like Rohu, Mrigal, Kalibaus, Puti and many more of hill stream adaptation are found abundantly in Meghalaya. Among the insect population, ants, flies, bees, beetles are common.
Meghalaya's butterflies are world famous, among which are Blue Peacock, the Karserhed, the Orange Oak Leaf, the Dipper, and the Bhutan Glory. It is for this exquisitely diverse, rare and wonderful animal life that Meghalaya is called a veritable Nature's Wonderland.
Some species of different families of mammals namely Primates, the Cats, Civets, Mongooses, Dogs, Bear, Weasels, Bats, Rodents, Elephants, Gaur, Wild Buffalo, Serow, Deer, Pigs and Pangolins are seen roaming in the forests of Meghalaya. In Meghalaya we come across apes as well as Monkeys and Lemurs.
The only type of apes found in Meghalaya as also in India is Hoolock Gibbon. In Meghalaya, both kind of Macaques and Langurs are found. Of the macaques, Rhesus Macaque and Assamese Macaque are found. The Golden Langur is a very rare species of Meghalaya and is on the verge of extinction. They inhabit the evergreen forests of Meghalaya. Among lemurs, the Slow Loris is found in Meghalaya.
The Feline Beauties
In Meghalaya, among the Cat Family the following are found: Tiger, Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Golden Cat, Leopard Cat and Jungle Cat.
Civets-The Little Predators
In Meghalaya forests, the following are the most important Civets - the large Indian Civets, the small Indian Civets, the Common Palm Civet or Toddy Cat, the Bintuong or Bear Cat.
Mongooses-The Smaller Hunters
In Meghalaya, the usual types of Mongooses found include the common Mongoose and the small Indian Mongoose.
The Scavenger Mammals
The Dog Family comprises Wolves, Jackals, Foxes and Dogs, all of which are found in Meghalaya. In Meghalaya, the Indian foxes are commonly found, inhabiting the open country and seldom enters forest area.
The Hefty Climbers
In Meghalaya, usually two species of bears are found - Sloth Bear and The Himalayan Black Bear.
The Weasel Family
The Weasel Family in Meghalaya comprises Weasels, Otters, Martens and Badgers. The Common Otter, Yellow Throated Marten and the Hog-Badger are also commonly found.
The Supersonic Parachuted Animals
Both vegetarian and carnivorous bats are found in Meghalaya. Some bats dwell on trees, but their most usual shelter is the cave. Meghalaya's famous Siju Cave is very much infested with bats.
THE GNAWING ANIMAL
Meghalaya's most interesting rodents population include Flying Squirrel, Malayan Giant Squirrel and Himalayan Squirrel.