When it comes to the best destination for wildlife sighting, there are not many that can match the range and versatility offered by India. The country has over 515 wildlife sanctuaries and 99 national parks spread across its length and breath. Many of these sanctuaries and parks have also been recognized as Tiger Reserves and Bird Sanctuaries. Being a geographically diverse country, the climatic conditions that prevail in these parks and sanctuaries vary significantly; the consequence of such variations is that no two parks are identical when it comes to the nature of wildlife they support. In addition, three of the world’s 43 biodiversity hotspots, viz., the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas and Indo-Burma belong to India. With so many safe abodes, it is no doubt that wildlife in India continues to thrive; starting from native animals to exotic species to endangered mammals and birds, Indian wildlife has it all. Some of the popular wildlife of the country includes Bengal tigers, Asian elephant, crocodiles, Indian rhinoceros, Asiatic lion, pythons, wolves, foxes, and bears.
It shouldn’t therefore take you long to decide on visiting India for a wildlife tour –there are so many things for you to see and explore. But if you need some extra cajoling, we have some interesting reasons readied for you. Just keep on reading
Watch the Asiatic Lion literally bossing around
This awesome-looking, powerfully built creature has been living life on the edge for quite some time now; as recently as in 1974 its population had shrunk to a low of 180, but thanks to conservation efforts it has since managed to come back strongly. Today some 411 lions are found in Gir National Park, Gujarat which is the only abode of these animals. A member of the cat family, it is slightly smaller and different from its African counterparts with a less developed mane, a larger tail tuft, and less inflated auditory bullae. While adult females weigh around 100-120 kg, the adult males can reach weigh up to almost 200 kg. Add to that their immense hunting skills, and what you get is a supreme predator that has not many equals on land. It is undoubtedly a prime attraction among any wildlife lover. The icing on the cake is, at Gir there are many other endangered and indigenous animals to sight and capture in your lenses.
The sturdily built Great One-horned Rhino, a mascot of power and agility
Once you move to the North East of India, you will find yourself in the land of the great one-horned rhino. This animal, like the Asiatic lion was at one point facing extinction, but today around 2/3 of the total population found in the wild live in Assam. After the Asian elephant, the rhino is the second largest terrestrial land mammal in Asia and is easily recognizable for its thick, silver-brown skin, as well as the many folds that cover its body. And did we miss its horn! The horn, though, has proved to be a double edged sword for this wonderful animal, which likes nothing more than to be left alone. For one, the horn gives the animal a cool and battle ready look that we don’t seem to have enough of, but on the other hand it is for these horns that it is killed ruthlessly. Considering its bulky size, you would be surprised to know that it is extremely agile, is an excellent swimmer, and can reach speeds up to 55 km/hr while running. The best place to sight this animal is Kaziranga National Park in Assam.
The silent giant, the Indian Elephant
The elephant is considered to be one of the most graceful animals on the planet and when you see the Indian elephant, you will realize why. Native to mainland Asia, the Indian elephant thrives on regions that have grasslands, dry deciduous, moist deciduous, evergreen and semi-evergreen forests. They are normally found of habitats that have an abundance of water and palatable food plants, and show a special liking for tall grasses. Comparing Asian Elephants to African Elephants, they are smaller in size but have relatively bigger trunks and broader skulls. The male of the Indian elephant is bigger in size the female and can grow and weigh up to 3.5 m and 5000 kg respectively. It is found in a number of national parks in India, but Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, and Jim Corbett National Park, the first national park of India, are among the best places considering the high elephant density per square km.
The Bengal tiger, the master of disguise and opportunistic hunting
When it comes to the art of hunting, there is no better artist than the Bengal tiger. The yellow and orange stripes that cover its body allow it to virtually disappear in the natural surroundings and pounce on unsuspecting prey like only it can. Nothing is too big or out of scope for this opportunistic hunter, be it a wild buffalo, sambar, or any other animal. Gifted with a body designed to kill, it is an apex predator with no natural enemy. The male of the species weighs up to 250 kg, while the females weigh between 100-160 kg. Bengal tigers are found to inhibit regions that have a high concentration of tropical and sub-tropical vegetation, and alluvial grasslands. Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Corbett are some of the famous national parks where you should head to sight this majestic creature.
These are not the only reasons why you must travel to India, but they definitely give you a fair idea about the interesting adventures that lay ahead of you. There is a lot to explore and learn, so come prepared. Do some research as to where to stay, and how to make the most of your time here, and you can very well have a blast.
This article was contributed by Anshul Srivastava. Anshul is a wildlife enthusiast, a nature lover and a pastime blogger. He loves to explore different wildlife sanctuaries and national parks. Till now he has passed through 164 wildlife sanctuaries including national parks and bird sanctuaries. When he is not travelling, he pens down his experience and share it with the world.