Amazing Animals to See in India
India is a vast country with various geographical zones and climatic conditions. From the tropical south to the snowy north, from the deserts west to the forests of the east, India is one of the biggest biodiversity hotspots. These hotspots contain some of the most amazing and unique species of flora and fauna. The bio-geographic region of Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, North-East Region, and Eastern Himalayas are full of treasured finds. So much so that the Western Ghats is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With over 500 wildlife sanctuaries and 100+ national parks, India is not only the home for many species but has made conservation efforts to thrive them. This makes the country’s 35 biodiversity hotspots, most unique in the world. This is a dream come true for a wildlife enthusiast.
The lush green jungles of India harbour many types of species. Listed here is a wildlife diary of amazing animals in India that needs attention if anyone is planning a trip to India. These extraordinary animals of the Indian subcontinent roam freely in the wild and are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Do check this guide to national parks in India for the do’s and don’ts.
Royal Bengal Tiger
A wildlife diary of amazing animals in India is incomplete without the star attraction. The Bengal tiger is the most popular wildlife among tourists. The attractive stripes, the elusive nature, and the stroke of luck to sight the cat, make it one of the most exciting trips. The Royal Bengal Tiger is the national animal of India as well as Bangladesh. India’s ecosystems support the habitat required for tigers – tropical evergreen forests, deciduous forests, and mangrove swamps.
70% of the world’s wild tigers live in India and thanks to the conservation efforts the population is rising steadily. According to the last census in 2019, the number of tigers in India is 2967. Altogether, there are 48 tiger reserves in India.
A large number of Royal Bengal Tigers can be spotted in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Karnataka, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Uttarakhand. Tadoba National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Sundarbans National Park, Jim Corbett National Park, and Bandhavgarh National Park are some of the most popular parks for tiger sightings.
Noticeably smaller than African lions, Asiatic lions are surviving and thriving only in the Indian state of Gujarat. Historically, Asiatic lions inhabited Western Asia and the Middle East up to northern India Asiatic lions but now are found only in India and their status is endangered. An estimation exercise in June 2020 put their figure to 674 in the Gir forest region.
The species’ unique cohabitation is worth experiencing as the lions have been sharing the forest space with a local Maldhari community. The conservation efforts are credible with efficient forest rangers patrolling the area. There are many software developments that help in giving more scientific data on what is happening in the protected area, helping to identify threats, poaching activity, and monitor movements.
Asiatic leopards are solitary animals that are seen not only in the forests but are now found on the periphery of cities and amongst rocky hillocks. The estimated leopard population in India is between 12,000 and 14,000. Many forests in India also host Melanistic leopards which attract photographers from all over the world to capture them in nature.
Leopards are found in each state of India. The Jawai and Bera hills of Rajasthan have recently become popular for spotting these cats at dusk and dawn where they are found in numbers.
Snow leopards are the most elusive cats. Their thick coat of fur camouflages so well with the rocky terrains that it makes sighting them extremely difficult. They are found in the rugged hills of the Himalayas – Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. There are an estimated 450-500 snow leopards in India, but its population is gradually declining due to loss of habitat and unavailability of prey. Warner temperatures are pushing them to higher grounds with negligible prey.
Snow Leopard can be spotted in Hemis National Park, Ladakh; Nanda Devi National Park, Uttarakhand; Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh; Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary, Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh; Pin Valley National Park, Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh; Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh.
The wild population of sloth bears inhabit most of the tropical and subtropical zones of India and are even found near villages and farmlands. Sloth bears are nocturnal animals and sleep through the day in dens, caves, and cooler areas of river banks.
Sloth bear’s status is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN as their numbers have decreased due to habitat loss and human poaching.
Sloth bears can be spotted in the Western Ghats states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The best park in India to see sloth bears is Satpura National Park but can be seen in Bandipur NP, Nargarhole NP, Madumalai NP, Tadoba NP, Pench NP, Kanha NP, Bandhavgarh NP, and Panna NP.
Samadkottur, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons