It is one of the most secretive cats and not many people in the world have had the privilege to see them in the wild in India. The wild cat loves to roam in the rocky mountain ranges of high altitude and it is estimated that in India there are about 200-600 snow leopards found in Hemis National Park, in east Ladakh, Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers National Park, in the state of Uttarakhand a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, and Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, near Anini.
Tigers were once found all over Asia,and from Turkey to Russia but over the last 100 years 93 percent of their range has been lost and half of the world population of tigers now reside in India. According to the last estimate there are 1706 tigers in India and if you wish to come face to face with the regal animal, here are the best places to find them – Madhya Pradesh, in the heart of Central India, has well known Tiger parks of Pench, Kanha and Bandavgarh and have high densities of Tigers. Corbett National Park, in Northern India, in the foothills of the Himalayas, is another beautiful lush park that harbours both tigers and wild elephants, which you have a good chance of seeing, besides a host of other species and some of the best birdlife in India. You want to try and get into the Dhikala range to ensure you get away from most ‘corporate tourism’ that is now booming here. Ranthambhore National Park, the closest park to Delhi in the desert state of Rajasthan, is probably India’s most famous park.
The only place in the world where you can see an AsiaticLion is in the Sasan Gir National Park and sanctuary in Gujarat. The semi deciduous forest makes quite a comfortable home for the Lion and the population is steadily increasing with 400 lions approximately residing here. Far less eloquent than their cousins, the African lions in appearance, the Asiatic lions though are no less aristocratic and just a glance of the king in his jungle abode is enough to make a lasting impression for life.
Ganga River Dolphin
The Ganges River Dolphin is primarily found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra Rivers and their tributaries in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The dolphin has been recognized by the Government of India as its National Aquatic Animal. Highest densities of these dolphins have been observed in the Ganges mainstream between Maniharighat and Buxar and within this segment particularly in the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary and just downstream between Kahalgaon and Manihari Ghat (near Katihar).
Lion Tailed Macaque
Listed as Endangered as the total number of mature individuals is less than 2,500 there are estimates of a continued decline of over 20% of the populations in the next approximately 25 years, due to hunting and continued loss of habitat. This species is endemic to the Western Ghats hill ranges in southwestern India from the Kalakkadu Hills north to Anshi Ghat in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The forests of Kerala host up to 1,216 adult lion-tailed macaques, according to a large study using estimates from forest sightings. In Tamil Nadu, the Anaimalai Hills support about 500 individuals, though only with two subpopulations. Also found in the Sirsi-Honnavara rainforests of the northern Western Ghats in Karnataka.
Although the overall population of this species is increasing, it is still a vulnerable animal highly threatened by poaching for its horns. Also known as the greater one horned rhinoceros the animal is confined to less than ten sites with over 70% of the population in Kaziranga National Park in Assam. Also found in Orang, Pobitara, Jaldapara and Dudhwa.
The Nilgiri Tahr
Known locally as the Nilgiri Ibex or simply Ibex, it is endemic to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern portion of the Western Ghats in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It is the state animal of Tamil Nadu. These tahrs inhabit the open montane grassland habitat of the South Western Ghats montane rain forests ecoregion. Their range extends over 400 kilometres from north to south, and Eravikulam National Park is home to the largest population. The other significant concentration is in the Nilgiri Hills, with smaller populations in the Anamalai Hills, Periyar National Park, Palni Hills and other pockets in the Western Ghats south of Eravikulam, almost to India’s southern tip.
The elephant has been named as the national heritage animal of India. Once widespread in the country, the species is now restricted to four general areas: northeastern India, central India, northwestern India, and southern India. In northeastern India, the elephant range extends from the eastern border of Nepal in northern West Bengal through western Assam along the Himalaya foothills as far as the Mishmi Hills. From here it extends into eastern Arunachal Pradesh, the plains of upper Assam, and the foothills of Nagaland. Further west, it extends to the Garo Hills of Meghalaya through the Khasi Hills, to parts of the lower Brahmaputra plains and Karbi Plateau. Elsewhere in the south in Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, and the Barak valley districts of Assam, isolated herds occur. In north-western India, the species occurs in six fragmented populations at the foot of the Himalayas in Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, ranging from Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Bahraich Forest Division in the east, to the Yamuna River in the west. In southern India, elephants occur in the hilly terrain of the Western Ghats and in parts of the Eastern Ghats in the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and, relatively recently, Andhra Pradesh. There are eight main populations in southern India, each fragmented from the others: northern Karnataka; the crestline of Karnataka–Western Ghats; Bhadra–Malnad; Brahmagiri–Nilgiris–Eastern Ghats; Nilambur–Silent Valley–Coimbatore; Anamalais–Parambikulam; Periyar–Srivilliputhur; and Agasthyamalais.
Although temple elephants are plenty around India, it is something else to see the regal animal in the wild.
Indian Bison (Gaur)
In India, three major (Western Ghats, Central India and North-East) and two minor (Bihar and West Bengal) Gaur conservation areas have been identified although the Western Ghats and their outflanking hills in south India constitute one of the most extensive extant strongholds of Gaur, with good numbers in Wynaad – Nagarahole – Mudumalai – Bandipur complex.
The largers body structure and the ferocious nature of the Gaur, makes it a must see animal in the wild. Note the contrasting characters from the tamed, domestic cattle.
Kashmir Red Stag (Hangul)
Last but not the least, the Hangul adds a touch of extraordinary beauty to the already enchanting kashmir valley. It is the state animal of Jammu & Kashmir.It’s found in Dachigam National Park at an elevations of 3,035 meters and also in Himachal Pradesh in northern Chamba. Threatened by habitat destruction this red deer’s population has thankfully increased in the past few years to about 300 in the wild.