The Wild Side of India

The Wild Side of India
A Snow Leopard caught in action, Photo Credit: Puneet K. Paliwal

From the elusive Western Red Panda to the magnificent Gaur; from the Snow Leopards that reside in the Himalayan high mountains to the humble Tahr of the Nilgiris, India is home to a fascinating set of animals that are now considered endangered

Meenketan Jha
May 07 , 2019
04 Min Read

Many, many exotic, one-of-a-kind species of animals roam the corners of our planet. If you have seen Netflix's latest documentary Our Planet*, narrated by David Attenborough, then you must be aware of how blessed our planet is with the wide range of life that inhabits it. (*If you haven't seen it, then you really are missing out). These charismatic wildlife species are dispersed across a wide of natural habitats. 

Whether it be the snow-capped Himalayan Mountain range, the sultry Sahara Desert, or even the lush green labyrinth that is the Amazon Rainforest, each area houses an uncompromising and unique range of wildlife. Sadly, though, many of these eye-catching species are endangered, many on the verge of extinction. 

India, for one, is an unparalleled abode for animals. Nearly 500 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks across its wide geography provide shelter to many such magnificent creatures. The Indian Cheetah, Aurochs, and Pink Headed-Ducks are some species that have become extinct in our country. Excessive hunting, poaching, deforestation and climate change over the years have disrupted the balance shared by nature and animals, leading to the current state of the situation. 

Following is a list of the most endangered species found in India. We need to take care of them.  

Royal Bengal Tiger 

The national animal of India, the Royal Bengal Tiger is the pride of our country. However, a rise in poaching saw the numbers of tigers in India dwindle at a striking rate. With several tiger sanctuaries popping up, the tiger population has seen some revival. Known for its supreme strength and royalty, the Royal Bengal Tiger can be spotted at the Jim Corbett National Park, Bandhavgarh National Park, Ranthambore National Park, and Sunderban National Park.

Nilgiri Tahr

Facing a major threat in the Western Ghats due to poaching activities and Eucalyptus cultivation, a shocking 2,500 Nilgiri Tahrs are all that remain. Identifiable through their curved horns, they look like goats but are much larger. There are several locations across South India where you can spot them like the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and Eravikulam National Park.

Tiger Toad

As exotic as wildlife can get! The Tiger Toad is unique for its tiger-like black stripes and yellow body with, the amphibian is critically endangered. A little bit longer than an inch, these cute little toads are endemic to the Western Ghats of India and can be spotted in Amboli in Maharashtra.

Western Red Panda 

Also called the red fox, this extraordinary species of animal reside in the coniferous and deciduous forests of Northeast India in bamboo and hollow trees. Inbreeding, poaching, and habitat loss has put the Red Panda on the endangered list. You can spot these photogenic, cute animals in Simlipal National Park, Khangchendzonga National Park, and Namdapha National Park.

Long Tailed Macaque 

Its bushy tail and lion-like grey mane gives it a distinct look from other species of monkey. Found in the southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, a shocking rise in timber smuggling have made the lives of the macaque a challenge. The number have witnessed a steep decline due to the loss of habitat.

Asiatic Lion

Gujarat's Gir National Park happens to be the home of another of India's most impressive wildlife species, the Asiatic Lion. Slightly different from the African Lion you might seen in Lion King due to its lesser developed mane and larger tail, a paltry 200 of them remain. The Asiatic Lion can only be found in India and thus, it is important to pay heed to their reducing numbers.

Gaur

The Gaur happens to be the largest extant bovine in the world. Found across South Asia and Southeast Asia, a trend of constant poaching has threatened its existence over the last three decades leading to a decrease of 70% in its population. Keep an eye out for them in the Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole  National Park and the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary.

Snow Leopard

If you ever happen to spot a Snow Leopard in its natural habitat in the Himalayan Mountain range, you do not understand how lucky you are. Extremely rare and ridiculously hard to track, the Snow Leopard happens to be one of the most solitary animals in the world. Illegally hunted for fur, the Snow Leopard can be spotted in Nanda Devi (Uttarakhand), Pin Valley (Himachal Pradesh), Hemis (Ladakh).


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