Wild Animals

Asia has a great variety of animals. In tropical south and southeast Asia are many kinds of mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and insects. Among the large animals of this region are the Indian elephant and the Indian rhinoceros. There are also Bengal tigers, leopards, and—on a small, protected reserve in western India—lions.

Crocodiles infest many of the tropical streams and some coastal waters. Native to a few small Indonesian islands is the dragon of Komodo, largest of all land lizards. Poisonous snakes—adders, cobras, and vipers—are widespread. The python, largest of all snakes, is found in Asia.

Asia's higher mountains and plateaus are the home of the snow leopard and several kinds of goats, antelopes, and sheep. In the cold forests of Siberia and adjacent Manchuria roams the Siberian tiger, largest of the cats. The rare giant panda is found in parts of central China.

The tundra has reindeer, hares, foxes, and wolves. The taiga harbors brown bear, elk, and such fur-bearing animals as sables, ermines, and otters.

Animals of the steppes and deserts are few, principally rodents, lizards, and insects. Along the Mediterranean coast are found deer and gazelles, jackals, and conies.

Some Asian wild animals have been domesticated. The yak is the principal beast of burden in Tibet, the water buffalo in the wet rice lands of Southeast Asia. Indian elephants have long been used to haul logs from tropical forests. In Central Asia, the two-humped Bactrian camel is an important beast of burden; the one-humped dromedary is still used in parts of the Middle East.