7 Animals in India You Should See before They’re Gone
February 23, 2015
With the rapid growth of population around the globe, the total forest cover is shrinking day by day. Human civilization is increasingly encroaching on natural habitats of animals and in the process hindering the natural growth of plants and animals.
Every day around 150-200 species of birds and animals are disappearing from earth which is undoubtedly an ecological threat. Luckily, India could realize the need of protecting its wildlife quite early and working upon this issue the country has developed a number of protected areas that accommodate all endangered species of animals.
Here are some of the most endangered species of animals in India and where you can find them:
Royal Bengal Tiger
The national animal of India and popularly called the “king of the jungle”, the Royal Bengal Tiger is one of the five remaining species of tigers found in the world. Declared as an endangered species, this variety of tiger is protected introducing several projects in India. One of the stealthiest hunters in the forest, this nocturnal is known for its powerful attacks and intelligence.
This vulnerable species of tigers has very keen eyesight, sharp hearing and they have a very strong jaw to bite the neck of the prey. Royal Bengal Tigers are mostly found in different shades of orange and tan colours. Today, only around 2500 numbers of tigers are found in Indian forest, which is an alarming stage for this species. Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, and Kanha National Park are the best places to have a glimpse of these big cats.Check out Wildland Adventure’s Tigers & Travels in India trip for an opportunity to see this elusive animal.
> Learn more about International Day of the Tiger on July 29.
The popular fish eating crocodile, Gharial or Gavial is declared as a critically endangered species as today there are only about 1000-1200 members left in the wild. It is one of the three crocodilians native to India and mostly found in steadily flowing rivers with high sand banks. Among the three varieties of crocodilians it is the longest and can grow up to 7m in length.
The skin cover of this species is coated with thick smooth epidermal scales. It is also the most aquatic crocodile that do not travel much far from the water. They have a pointed long jaw which helps them to gulp down fish. Today only around 400 Gharials are left in the world. In India they are found in Chambal and Girwa Rivers as well as in the three special reserves that are located in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and which are established with the intent to protect them.
A unique species of big cat that never roars, Snow leopards are found only at an elevation of around 3000 to 5000m or above in the Himalaya. Native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, these carnivores prefer steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. Their delicate, smoky-grey far is tessellated with dark-grey or black rosettes; they are most active at dawn and dusk. Their geographical range encloses a major part of the Western Himalaya that includes the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Due to the increasing human intrusion into the mountains their habitat is getting smaller and fragmented. Today, only around 300 – 500 number of snow leopards are found in the world.
One of the seven sub-species of lion found in the world, the Asiatic Lion is found only in India’s Gir Forest, a former Royal Reserve. The most distinctive feature of this variety is the longitudinal folds of skin running along its belly. Males have manes around their neck and they protect their group from intruders, whereas, the females are the most active among them. They are slightly shorter in length in comparison to their African counterpart. The shades of the fur range from ruddy-tawny to sandy or buffish-grey. Today, only around 200 to 260 Asiatic Lions are found in the wild.
Hangul Kashmiri Stag
Left with around 160 individuals in the wild, Hangul or Kashmiri Stag is native to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir and found only in the Dachigam National Park of Kashmir Valley. Listed as critically endangered, this particular species of deer is a subspecies of the red deer and they keep changing their color as the season changes. Declared as the state animal of Kashmir, this particular species was killed in the past for their horns, skin and mainly for their meat in large numbers.
Listed as a vulnerable species by IUCN, Red Panda is a small arboreal mammal found at a height of 2,200 m – 4,800 m. Left with around 2,500 numbers in the wild, this omnivore is the only living species of genus Ailurus. Slightly bigger than the domestic cats, Red Pandas have reddish brown fur, a long shaggy tail and shorter front legs. They mainly feed on bamboo and that is why they are mostly found in Sikkim, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Darjeeling District of Arunchal Pradesh.
Another species endemic to the Western Ghats of India, Lion-Tailed Macaques have distinctive grey manes with smooth black hair coating on their body. Usually they live on tree tops of moist, shady rainforest and live on buds, insects, leaves along with small buds and mammals. Male Macaques have stronger and large canines which are used for having food like Jackfruit. Reproduction cycle of this species is very slow as females give birth once in three years. Unfortunately among the 21 species of macaques found in the world, this is the only species that is presently listed as endangered.
There are several other endangered animals that are found only in the Indian sub-continent. There are a number of places to spot varied wildlife, many of which are vulnerable, nearly threatened and endemic species. For a guaranteed wildlife sighting, tourists can head to Kaziranga National Park in Assam for sighting rhinoceros or Madhav National Park in Shivpuri, Madhy Pradesh, to spot crocodiles.
Pawan Kotiyal is an avid traveller, who likes to trudge to far-flung and lesser-explored destinations in India. Trekking and photography keeps him busy while he is out exploring the unknown destinations. He also likes to pen his travelling experience in order to help those with similar interest in travelling, trekking and photography.