India has what is arguably the greatest variety of wildlife in the world. There are few places that boast the diversity and range that India has and yet tourists typically focus so hard on seeing iconic animals, like the tiger, that they fail to appreciate what else there is.
There are over 400 types of mammal in India and many are endangered or native only to small parts of the world. For example, the Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is home to two-thirds of the world’s population of One Horned (or Indian) Rhinos. These animals are every bit as spectacular as a tiger and, sadly, critically endangered due to poaching and habitat loss. At one point there was only 12 left in the wild, their population has rise though to around 1800 nowadays. Meanwhile, in central India, the Satpura National Park is an ideal place to see the beautiful but rare, sloth bear. Many of us know this bear from the Jungle Book but in reality, it is a much smaller and timider animal, one that is rarely seen by tourists.
Of course, India has iconic cats outside of the tiger. The beautiful Snow and Asiatic leopards both can be found here as well. Snow leopards are famously elusive with most sightings happening in the Hemis National Park in the Ladakh region. With the help of local experts, you may catch a glimpse of an animal that few on earth have ever seen. The Asiatic leopard is slightly easier to spot but no less magnificent. There are around 12,000 of these stunning cats in India, with the best place to see them being in the Jawai region. It is often said by locals that the leopards are guardians of the holy temples, such is their esteem they are held in.
Of course, there is plenty of less well-known wildlife too. The red panda will be new to many people but is a wonderful sight. Not a large, or particular dangerous animal, mainly feeding on bamboo, it’s the expressive face and general “cute” appearance makes it an instant favorite for those who can spot one. Despite its name, it is actually more closely related to a racoon than a giant panda. These animals are best seen in the Assam region in North East India. The pangolin is another iconic species, although critically rare due to poaching, this armored anteater is always worth looking for and is one of the rarest animals on the planet.
Such is the diversity of wildlife in this spectacular country that we haven’t even mentioned the birds or reptiles yet. The Indian Roller is perhaps the most well-known bird, with their brown chest plumage and vibrant blue and purple wings they make for a remarkable sight. The Ranthambore and Corbett National Parks are favorites for bird watchers, with some of the rarest and most beautiful birds on display.
Whilst some reptiles are best avoided, animals such as the dragon lizard, monitor lizard, and Indian chameleon are well worth keeping an eye out for though they can be hard to spot! Indian even has three species of crocodile which are some of the greatest hunters and are a spectacular creature to observe from a safe distance.
Whilst we may admire the tiger, as we should, it is by no means the only thing worth seeing in India. There are few places as abundant in wildlife and if you employ a local guide and look in the right places you can’t fail to be impressed and even a little overwhelmed with the wildlife on display. Sadly though, much of India’s wildlife is critically endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.
Sustainable tourism is a valuable asset to this country as it provides jobs and stability for people which means they can move away from poaching or criminal activities in order to support themselves. Good, ethical tour operators support the wildlife in their area and do everything they can to preserve it whilst also allowing tourists to see these beautiful animals in the wild.
To see all these animals, and much more, with a local guide then have a look on the Travish website. Travish are a sustainable tour operator who support local people and the protection of wildlife in India. They boast a range of tours to suit a variety of tastes and you can be confident that they will deliver an outstanding experience in an ethical manner.