Long before the term ‘rainforest’ was introduced in 1970 in English, the word ‘jungle’ had been in use. It was derived from the Sanskrit word ‘jangala’ meaning ‘uncultivated land.’ Although the rainforest finds popular usage, yet it has not totally replaced the word ‘jungle,’ and practically both words co-exist sometimes with a little variation in their description. A jungle differs from a forest in that a forest has tall trees with a thick canopy allowing only one percent of light to penetrate to the forest floor. In a jungle, the floor is fully exposed to sunlight allowing the thick growth of shrubs and grasses. Distinguishing features of jungles or rainforests include their warm and humid environment as well as an excess of precipitation.
1. The Amazon Jungle
The Amazon Jungle, also known as the Amazon rainforest, or Amazonia, includes most of the South American Amazon basin. The total area of this basin is 7 million square kilometers, and 5.5 million square kilometers of it is comprised of the jungle. The Amazon Jungle is the largest jungle in the world and covers an area that is equal to almost half of the total area of the jungles of the world. The Amazon Jungle falls within the territories of nine countries. Most of the jungle, that is about 60 percent, is in Brazil. Peru contains 13 percent of the jungle while Columbia contain contains 10 percent of it. Traces of the Amazon Jungle are also found in other countries including: Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The names of four countries include ‘Amazonas’ as a part of them. About 33 percent of all the species found in the world live in the Amazon Jungle.
2. The Congo Jungle
The Congo Jungle, also known as the Congolian, is the second largest jungle in the world. It is spread over the basin of the Congo River and its branches in Central Africa. It includes the territories of Cameroon, Gabon, Central Republic of Congo, and the southwestern portion of the Central African Republic. On account of its unique biodiversity, five national parks of the Congo Jungle are listed as UN World Heritage sites. It is considered an important biodiversity hotspot, and the animals found here include: lions, forest elephants, white rhino, giraffe, hippopotami, gorillas, Chimpanzees, Bonbos, Civet, White Rhino, and Congo Peacock. The animal population of the Congo Jungle comprises more than 10,000 plant species, 1,000 birds, 200 amphibians, and more than 300 reptiles.
3. Corcovado Jungle
Corcovado Jungle is an Osa Conservation area in Costa Rica. Its Corcovado National Park, established on October 24, 1975, is the true representative of the Corcovado Jungle. According to National Geographic, it is ‘the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity.’ The biodiversity found in the Corcovado Jungle includes: the very rare Harpy Eagle, Baird’s Tapir, Spectacled Caiman, American crocodile, bull sharks, ocelots, Mamargay, and jaguar. There are four species of monkeys which are specific to the Corcovado Jungle and they are: Central American Squirrel Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler, and Geoffrey Peccary. Silk anteaters and poison dart frogs are also found here. The venomous Fer-de-Lance and bush master snakes also are common inhabitants of this jungle.
The Nainital jungle is located in the northern region of the Himalayas in the Utrakhand state of India. It is best represented by The Jim Corbett National Park. Originally, the park was named Hailey National Park after Governor Hailey but was renamed as Ramganga National Park after the holy river Ram Ramganga. Its name was changed once again to the Jim Corbett National Park in 1957 after the death of the famous British hunter in 1955. Jim Corbett is known for hunting hundreds of man-eating tigers and lions. The park opens to the public from September 15 to June 15 each year. The Nainital Jungle differs from many other jungles in its temperature range being less than 4 degrees centigrade to more than 44 degrees centigrade in the summer. This jungle has a large number of animal and plant species.
5. Kakadu Jungle
The Australian Kakadu Jungle is best represented by the Kakadu National Park. On account of its aboriginal sites, dramatic landscape, and diverse wildlife, the Kakadu National Park attracts national and international visitors. It has beautiful waterfalls like Maguk, Gunlom, Jim Jim, and Twin Falls. The park is located at about 171 km from Darwin and is considered a bird watcher’s paradise. The Kakadu Jungle is home to more than 60 mammalian species including marsupials like kangaroos which carry their offspring in their pouches. Other animals include: Dingos, Black Wallaroos, Short-eared Rock Wallabies, Brush-tailed Phascogales, Black-footed tree rats, and black fruit bats.
6. The Sinharaja Jungle
‘Sinharaja’ literally means ‘kingdom of the lion,’ is a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. To save it from unauthorized human activities causing depletion of the jungle, it was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and listed as a World Heritage Site in 1988. The reserve area is only 21 kilometers long and 7 kilometers wide. The Purple-faced Langur is the most common primate found here. The most common deer species include: Sambhur, the Monk Deer, and the Barking Deer. A unique and interesting phenomenon is the occurrence of colorful, mixed flocks of birds from different species which feed and fly together. Rare varieties of birds found in this jungle include: The Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, the White-headed Starling, the Green-billed Coucal, and the Ashy-headed Babbler.
7. Papua New Guinea Jungle
New Guinea is known the world over for its intact jungles. A range of mountains runs through the island of New Guinea. It is covered by dense jungles having cultural diversity and a unique biodiversity. Wetlands surrounding the Sepik and Fly Rivers are also covered with dense jungle. More than 75 percent of the country is covered with jungle. About 841 languages are spoken there, and almost each village has its own language. The backs of male members usually bear ritual scarring to honor the holy crocodiles. The forest plants include: orchids, tree ferns, cord lines, wild taros, pendants, rhododendrons, and begonias. Headhunting in Papua New Guinea has been reported in the years as late as the 1960s and 1970s.
8. The Sundarabans
The word ‘Sundarbans’ is derived from ‘Sundar’ meaning ‘beautiful’ and ‘bun’ meaning ‘forest.’ ‘Sundarbans’ literally means ‘beautiful,’ and it was due to its beauty that it had been listed among the finalists in the New Seven Wonders of Nature. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a halophytic mangrove. Halophytes are the plants which can grow in highly salty water like sea water. Sixty-six percent of the Sundarbans are situated in Bangladesh while 34 percent of them lie in the Indian state of West Bengal. The area of the Sundarbans is about 4,110 square kilometers out of which 1,700 square kilometers of this area is covered by bodies of water like rivers, canals, and creeks of various widths. It is known as the largest reserve for the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is also home to spotted deer and some rare species of mammals, birds, and reptiles.
9. Gondwana Rainforests
The Gondwana Jungle, also known as Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves, is one of the largest jungles in the world. It includes 50 separate reserves and covers a 3,665 square kilometers area mostly near New South Wales, Queensland. This jungle was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1986. This jungle has been divided into eight units considered having a significant heritage importance. These areas are listed on the Australian Heritage List. The biggest Gondwana Jungle is located in Tasmania’s Tarkine Wilderness. It is home to more than 200 rare and threatened animal and plant species.
10. Pulau Tioman Jungle
Tioman Island is located in Malaysia in the State of Pahang. It is 39 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide. About 8,296 hectares area of the island is a dense jungle. In 1970, Time magazine listed the Tioman Island as one of the most beautiful islands of the world. The island is only very sparsely inhabited. The island is surrounded by coral reefs and is a popular point for scuba diving. The Tioman Jungle is home to many protected mammals including the Long-tailed Macaque, Black Giant Squirrel, Brush Tail Porcupine, Civet, Binturong, Show Loris, and the Red Giant Flying Squirrel.
Never in the history of mankind have jungles been so exposed to the risk of elimination as they are presently. At times, something said quite long ago seems as if it was said for an era in waiting. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States said, ‘A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.’ Our academia ensures a first-rate exposure to factories through study tours but is quite content if only a very few such tours are organized for the first-rate knowledge of jungles.