The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Indian Natural History

This article explores the history and people involved in the study of natural history in India. Natural history is here restricted to the broad fields of paleontology, zoology and botany.

Although much of the growth of natural history in India can be attributed to British colonialism and the growth of natural history in Britain, there is considerable evidence to suggest that India with its diverse landscape, fauna and flora along with many other tropical colonies helped in creating an interest in natural history in Britain and elsewhere in world.


Vedic times

The vedas represent some of the oldest historical records available and it lists the names of nearly 250 kinds of birds and also has notes on various other fauna and flora. A notable piece of information is the knowledge of brood parasitism in the Indian Koel, a habit known well ahead of Aristotle. This is possibly because of the commonness of the Indian Koel and its host the House Crow.

The elephant was a well studied animal and the capture, training and maintenance of elephants was documented.

Moghul period

The Moghul emperors not only led a leisurely life but also pursued gardening and art. They decorated their gardens with their private zoos and hired artists to paint many subjects including plants and animals. Hunting and falconry were also extensively practised.


Colonial India

The Indian Civil Services brought many British naturalists to India. Some collected species on behalf of British naturalists, while others carried out their studies entirely on their own. The massive collection and documentation efforts led to the production of the Fauna of British India series.

Allan Octavian Hume
Thomas C. Jerdon
Edward Blyth
Hugh Whistler
W H Sykes
C. M. Inglis
E C S Baker
Stuart Baker
E W Oates
Ferdinand Stoliczka
W T Blanford
Charles Swinhoe
Robert Swinhoe
C H T Marshall
Samuel Tickell
R. C. Wroughton
Robert A. Sterndale
S. H. Prater
Brian Houghton Hodgson
Reptiles and Amphibians
R. H. Beddome
Frank Wall
H. S. Ferguson
Harold Maxwell-Lefroy
Thomas Bainbrigge Fletcher
Francis Day
Francis Buchanan-Hamilton
Flora and Forests
Charles McCann
Joseph Dalton Hooker
John Gerard Koenig
Nathaniel Wallich
William Roxburgh
Dietrich Brandis
T. F. Bourdillon
A. A. Dunbar-Brander conservator of forests in the Central Provinces
H. G. Champion
F. W. Champion Deputy Conservator of Forests, United Provinces
P. D. Stracey
Kenneth Anderson
Jim Corbett
Richard Meinertzhagen
R. C. Morris
George P. Sanderson
Edward Hamilton Aitken
Museum workers
Nathaniel Wallich
C. M. Inglis
Edward Blyth
Albert C. L. G. GŁnther
James Wood-Mason
John Anderson
Alfred William Alcock
George Albert Boulenger
Richard Bowdler Sharpe
Norman Boyd Kinnear

Post-Independence (1947-current)


Salim Ali
Horace Alexander
Biswamoy Biswas
Humayun Abdulali
Sidney Dillon Ripley
Bertram E. Smythies


Sunderlal Hora


M. S. Mani
B. K. Tikader


J. B. S. Haldane


M. Krishnan
Harry Miller
Ruskin Bond


E. P. Gee
Last updated: 05-07-2005 12:05:09
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04