In Arunachal’s rich and colourful flora and fauna orchids find a place of pride. Out of about a thousand species of orchids in India, over 500 are to be found in Arunachal Pradesh alone. These are colourful, spectacular and some bear exotic names such as Sita-Pushpa and Draupadi-Pushpa which were believed to have been worn by Sita and Draupadi for ornamentation.
Some of the orchids are rare and classified as endangered. Arunachal Pradesh Forest Development Corporation has established an Orchid Research and Development Station at Tippi in West Kameng district for propagation and conservation of these species. This centre has established a laboratory for orchids seed and tissue culture for this purpose.
The wildlife of Arunachal is equally rich and varied. Elephants and tigers abound, especially in the grassy foothills and the leopard and jungle cat are quite common. The white browed gibbon is found in Tirap and Lohit districts and red pandas and musk deer in the higher ranges.
The ‘Mithun’ (Bos Frontails), exists both in wild and semi-domesticated form. This animal has a religious significance and has intimate relation with socio-cultural life of the people. Traditionally, mithun is a unit of wealth and is allowed to move freely in the jungle till it is either used for food on festive occasions and marriage feasts, or for barter.
Arunachal Pradesh is also the happy home of the great Indian Hornbill – the extraordinary bird with an inordinately large beak.
Four wildlife sanctuaries at Pakhui, Lali, Itanagar and Namdapha had been set up in 1979, covering an area of 3000 sq kms. The Mehao wildlife sanctuary was established in the Sixth Plan and Namdapha sanctuary was upgraded to the status of a national park in 1983. ‘Project Tiger’ was also launched in Namdapha in 1983. The Mouling Reserve Forest in East Siang district, covering an area of 483 sq kms, has been declared a national park in 1986.