The Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites, put into orbit since 1988 by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), have been used extensively in monitoring and management of natural resources. IRS satellite images, at times, bring out the captivating appearance of landforms reiterating the beauty of our country. One such image is of the LISS-4 picture that reflects a ‘heart’ shaped landscape amidst the swaying grasslands of Kanha National park in the Mandla district of Madhya Pradesh. Kanha National Park became a Tiger Reserve in 1974 and consists of open grasslands which sprung up in fields of abandoned villages. The area has many species of grass, some of which are important for the survival of Barasingha(Stag). Kanha is home to more than one thousand species of flowering plants, which, one should ideally have the pleasure of seeing in real between November to June when the National Park welcomes its human visitors.
Grassland is known by myriad names across the world – prairies (US Mideast), pampas (South America), steppes (Central Eurasia), savannas (Africa) and so on. A land where the grass is the most dominant vegetation is a designated area that transitions between the forests and the desert; primarily a land, which receives neither too much nor too little rainfall. Open and fairly flat, grasslands are of two types: tropical and temperate. Tropical grasslands are warm all year round but the temperate ones are more dry and windy.
In India, grasslands are found at various altitudes and in many geographical regions under disparate climatic conditions. Each of these grasslands has their own distinct characteristics. The most widespread are Imperata grasslands. The majority of the grass species found in India belong to Andropogoneae (30 per cent), Paniceae (15 percent), and Eragrosteae (9 per cent) sub-groups. Home to some of the most endangered and endemic species including antelopes, tigers, bears, Indian leopard and bustard, India’s grasslands also abound in a large variety of bamboo.