The physical features of the district arc distinguished into two marked tracts. In the east and south are the intensively cultivated plain tracts, with scattered blocks of forests. The portion in the north and north-west, called Melghat, comprises the hilly terrain of the Gawilgad ranges of the Satpudas. The plain tracts contain open type of forest, as a result of the biotic influences. The hilly region is a well-preserved compact block of forest. The existence of the fauna has a direct relation with the condition of the vegetation and the biotic influences. The plain tract is thus poor in fauna, while the well-preserved forest of the hilly region is richly stocked with different kinds of wild animals.
The Black Monkey (Semnopithecus entellus; M. Vanar) is met with in all parts of the district. In the plain tract, it is found in large numbers. Herds of over 50 are not an uncommon sight. It causes a considerable damage to the crop in the fields and the gardens. There are instances, when grown up males have attacked the villagers, when attempted to scare away from the fields or gardens.
The Red Monkey (Macacus rhesus; M. Makad): It is not so common as the Langur and confines to the Sirasban valley roundabout Chikhaldara.
They confine to the tracts of the forests in the plains. Calves let loose take resort to nearby forests and become wild. They thrive in large numbers. Herds of 50 to 100 are found in the Chirodi reserved forests particularly, and other isolated blocks of the Chandur tahsil. They cause serious damage to the crops. Contracts for the capture of these animals are given to eradicate the menace but the efforts have met with no success and the menace continues.
The Tiger (Felis tigris; M. Vagh): It is essentially a forest animal. When his natural food like pigs, and deer, etc., gets scarce, the tiger takes to cattle-lifting. It, however, avoids confrontation with humans. Cases of man-eaters are rare. In a recent instance, three tiger cubs about one year old, turned into man-eaters, after their mother was shot. Tigers are found in a fair number in the Melghat forests. The census carried out during the year 1960 recorded a stock of 40 tigers, 18 tigresses and 13 tiger cubs. The plain forests are devoid of this animal.
Two varieties of panthers are found, viz., the pard (Felis pardus; M. Bibtya) and the panther (Felis panthera; M. Bibtya
vagh). Pard is a smaller animal, while panther is heavier and
more powerful, with distinct and larger spot markings on the
skin. Its skin is attractive and is much sought after by sportsmen. Panthers arc found both in the plains and in the Melghat
forests. These are rather bold animals and would not show much fear of men. Instances are common when panthers have walked in the villages to prey upon dogs, goats and cattle. Cases of panthers freely and frequently roaming in the vicinity of the Chikhaldara civil station and entering the forest village of Shah-pur for lifting cattle have very often been reported. Though panthers are often known to have lifted cattle unlike tigers they rarely turn into man-eaters.
Jungle Cat (Felis chaus ; M. Ran Manjar): It is fairly common
in the forest areas of the plains and of Melghat. Specimen of all colours are met with.
Hyaena (Hyaena striata; M. Taras): It is found in the
forests of the plains and Melghat, generally frequenting the
forests in the vicinity of the villages. It is an excellent scavenger.
Jackal and Fox.
Jackal (Canis aureus ; M. Kolha) and Fox (Vulpes bengalensis ; M. Kolha): These are found in the forests of the plains and of Melghat. Jackals are reported to damage the crops.
Wild Dogs (Red dogs; M. Ran Kutra): These are found in
the Melghat forests in a fairly large number. They roam about and are very destructive to the game, particularly the Sambhars. The aboriginals regard them as useful friends for when a pack has pulled down a Sambhar, they scare away the dogs and appropriate the flesh. Rewards are offered to kill these animals.
The Indian Sloth Bear (Ursus vel melursus ursinus ; M. Asval): It is common in the Melghat forests. It is very much feared by the aboriginals for its stubborn combativeness. Cases of mauling when disturbed by the local people are frequent.
The Badger or Ratel (Mellivora indica ; M. Bijju): It is not a common animal and is found particularly in the neighbourhood of Bairat in Melghat.
The Wild Pig (Sus Scrofa fel cristatus: M. Ran Dukkar): It
is common in forests of Melghat and also in the plains though in much less number. In the Melghat forests large herds of over 50 are met with. They cause considerable damage to the forest villages and also to the bamboo plantations. In the Melghat forests, their number is fairly large and the consequent damage being considerable, it has been recommended to be declared as a vermin.
The Common Indian Hare (Lepus ruficaudatus ; M. Sasa): It
is common in the forests of this district. These animals cause
great damage to the seedlings in the nurseries, particularly the plants with succulent roots, bamboos, and semal.
Porcupines (M. Sayal) are found in the Melghat forests and are common in the Chikhaldara and Gugamal ranges. These are also
Mongoose (M. Mungus) is found in the forests of Melghat. There are two main varieties, viz., Herpestes Palidus vcl Griscus and Herpestes jerdemi. The latter is mostly found roundabout Chikhaldara.
The Otter (Lutra nain ; M. Pankutra) is found in the pools of the Sipna river in Melghat. and is getting extinct gradually.
Of the horned game, the most important is the Bison (Bos vel gavaeus gaums; M. Gava). It is a magnificent animal and is under protection. Large herds are met with in the forests of Gugamal, Khirpani, Chaurakund and Raipur. These animals cause extensive damage to the young plantations and the young forest crops. Allowance is made to shoot a few of them in order to minimise the destruction of the crops and plantations.
The district contains three species of deer and four of antelopes.
The Sambhar (Rusa aristotelis; M. Sambhar) is found in the Melghat forests and occasionally into the plain forests of Morshi range coming from the adjoining forests of Betul. The animal is under complete protection since a couple of years. The number has increased in the Khirpani, Gugamal ranges of the Melghat forests particularly due to the policy of protecting the wild animal reserve. Some of them are found to damage the plantations. A few heads are recommended to be shot from such blocks, where the damage is extensive.
The Chital (Axis maculatus ; M. Chital) is found in comparatively small numbers and is particularly confined to the Chirodi reserved forests in Amravati range and the Somthana area of Dhulghat range. It was fairly abundant in Morshi forest, where it is now scarce.
The Barking deer (Cetvulus muntjac; M. Baikar) is more abundantly found in the Melghat and occasionally in the forests of the plains in Morshi and Chirodi.
Blue Bull (Portax pictus vel boselephas tragocamelus; M. Nilgai) is the animal of the plain forests and is found in Chirodi and the blocks of Morshi range. It is absent in the Melghat, though occasionally met with in the open areas of the Dhulghat reserved forests.
The Black Buck (Anlilope bezoartica ; M. Kalwit) used to be common in the plain forests of Morshi and Amravati, but is practically extinct. It is unknown in the Melghat forests.
Chinkara (Gazclla henncttii; M. Chinkara) is common in the plain forests of Amravati and Morshi.
Charsingha Grey Squirrel and Others.
The Four-horned Antelope (M. Charsingha) is common in the
The grey squirrel (M. Sal) is common and is found in large
numbers all over the district. In addition there are numerous
kinds of lizards including the Ghorpad. Snakes like Cobra,
Krait, Vipers and the Indian Python are commonly found. The
alligator is reported to be found in the pools of the Tapi river
forming the boundary of the district.