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MyanmarTravel.Info  - amigo tour, myanmar travel, myanmar travels, myanmar tour, myanmar tours, myanmar tour operator, myanmar tour guideFlora & Fauna

FLORA

As in the rest of tropical Asia, most indigenous vegetation in Myanmar is associated with two basic types of tropical forest: monsoon forest (with a distinctive dry season of three months or more) and rainforest (where rain falls more than nine months per year).

Monsoon forests are marked by deciduous tree varieties, which shed their leaves during the dry season to conserve water; rainforests are typically evergreen. The area stretching from Yangon to Myitkyina contains mainly monsoon forests, while peninsular Myanmar south of mawlamyaing is predominantly a rainforest zone. There is muck overlapping of the two - some forest zones support a mix of monsoon forest and rainforest vegetation.

In the mountainous Himalayan region above the Tropic of Cancer, Myanmar's flora is characterised by subtropical broadleaf evergreen coniferous and subalpine snow forest passing into alpine scrub above 3000m.

Along the Rakhaing and Tanintharyi coasts, tidal forests occur in river estuaries, lagoons, tidal creeks and along low islands. Such woodlands are characterised by magrove and other coastal trees that grow in mud and are resistant to sea water. Beach and dune forests, which grow along these same coasts above the high-tide line, consist of palms, hibiscus, casuarinas and other tree varieties which can withstand high winds and occasional storm-sent waves.

The country's most famous flora includes an incredible array of fruit trees (see the Food section in the Facts for the Visitor chapter), over 25,000 flowering species, a variety of tropical hardwoods, and bamboo. Of the last, considered one of Asia's more renewable plant resources, Myanmar may possibly contain more species than any country outside China. One pure stand of bamboo in Rakhaing State extends over 7770 sq km. Cane and rattan are also plentiful.

As mentioned earlier, Myanmar currently boasts natural forest cover of 43%. Another 31% of the land surface is covered by secondary forest, most of which is subject to shifting 'slash-and-burn' cultivation.

Myanmar holds 75% of the world's reserves of Tectona grandis; better known as teak to English speakers, and kyun to the Burmese. This dense, long-wearing, highly prized hardwood is one of Myanmar's most important exports, for which the biggest consumers are China, Singapore and India.

FAUNA

When Marco Polo wrote about Myanmar in the 13th century, he described ' vast jungles teeming with elephants, unicorns and other wild beasts'. Though Myanmar's natural biodiversity has no doubt altered considerably since that time, it's difficult to say just how much
The most comprehensive wildlife survey available at the time of writing was undertaken by the Bombay Natural History Society between 1912 and 1921 and published as the Mammal Survey of India, Burma and Ceylon. In Myanmar The Wild Animals of Burma, published in 1967, is the most recent work available and even this volume simply contains extracts from various surveys carried out by the British between 1912 and 1941, with a few observations dating to 1961.

As with flora, the variation in Myanmar's wildlife is closely associated with the country's geographic and climatic differences. Hence the indigenous fauna of the country's northern half is mostly of Indo-Chinese origin while that of the south is generally Sundaic (ie typical of Malaysia, Sumatra, Bornea and Java). In the Himalayan region north of the Tropic of cancer, fauna shares the Indian biogeographical realm with areas of North-Eastern India. The large overlap area between zoogeographical and vegetative zones - extending from around Myitkyina in the north to Bago Yoma in the central region - means that much of Myanmar is a potential habitat for plants and animals from all three zones.

Myanmar is rich in bird life, with an estimated 1000 resident and migrating species. Coastal and inland waterways of the delta and southern peninsula are especially important habitats for South-East Asian waterfowl.

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