ABSTRACT

494 495 496This chapter covers the whole of Asia: limited in the west by the Ural’skiy Khrebet (Russian Federation), Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea and Iran; and in the east and southeast by the Japanese, Philippine and Indonesian islands but excluding Irian Jaya and the islands of eastern Indonesia inhabited by Australasian elapids (e.g. Obi, Seram, Kep. Tanimbar, Kep. Kai and Kep. Aru) (see Chapter 28). Climate and vegetation vary enormously throughout this vast region. In Asia, no venomous snakes are found within the Arctic Circle, but species such as Vipera berus and Vipera ursinii are found in the boreal forests of Siberia. Further south is desert and steppe in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and northern China and rocky desert and mountainous country in southwestern Asia (Uzbekhistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Afghanistan and the high Tibetan plateau with the Himalayan range to the south). The tropical rain forest, rapidly dwindling, occurs throughout South East Asia, southern China, Indonesia and along the west coast of India and in parts of Sri Lanka. Monsoon forest exists in eastern India, Bangladesh, parts of Sri Lanka and areas of Southeast Asia. Much of northeastern and southern India is dry tropical scrub forest and thorn forest.