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The Top Ten Animals to see in India

As an alternative to traditional African safari destinations, India offers one of the best safari experiences with a plethora of wildlife some of which is unique to the country’s national parks and reserves.

#1: Bengal Tiger

Out of all the animals in India, the Bengal tiger is probably the most famous. They are the largest cat species in the world and the most numerous subspecies of tiger in the wild today. These big cats are capable of killing animals over twice their size and have powerful paws and jaws which helps them catch their prey.

Did you know: Every tiger in the world is unique; no two tigers have the same stripes just like a human fingerprint! Unlike other big cats, tigers love water so can often be found around waterholes and rivers. One of the best places to see tigers in the wild in India is Kanha National Park, a true wilderness with rolling grasslands and winding streams making it a picturesque location to enjoy tiger tracking.

When to go: Travel between March–April for the best tiger sightings. This is the end of the dry season so tigers are easier to spot, but temperatures are high!

#2: Sloth Bear

Much smaller than Disney’s Jungle Book portrayed, sloth bears normally stand at around 5 – 6 foot in height. These fluffy, somewhat lanky bears are generally solitary animals residing in the forests of the Indian subcontinent.

Did you know: Sloth bears are nocturnal mainly foraging for termites and fruit at night. Sloth bears are considered vulnerable by the IUCN. Their numbers have decreased due habitat loss and human poaching thanks to their tameable nature. The best park in India to see sloth bears is Satpura National Park.

When to go: The best time to see sloth bears in India is the tail end of the dry season, luckily the same time as tigers!

#3: One-Horned Rhino

Similar to their African counterparts, Indian rhinos have thick grey skin and a large stature, but notably this subspecies only has one horn rather than two.

Did you know: Rhinos horns are made of keratin, the same protein as human hair and nails. The habitat of Indian rhinoceroses is limited to one particular area of India: the Indo-Gangetic Plain so sightings are likely if you know where to go. Head to Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary for the best sightings; it is home to two thirds of the world’s population of one-horned rhinos. Although their conservation status is vulnerable, numbers have increased dramatically over the past 100 years, from just 12 individuals in Kaziranga in 1,908, to 1,855 today. This is a fantastic conservation success story!

When to go: One-horned rhinos can be seen year-round in Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary keep your eyes peeled and camera at the ready!

#4: Asiatic Leopard

Asiatic leopards are very elusive, solitary creatures seen amongst rocky outcrops in India’s national parks. Leopards are stealthy hunters found mainly at dusk and dawn seeking out prey such as deer and fowl.

Did you know: Indian leopards have larger black rosettes than African leopards. Populations are relatively high in India with between 12,000 and 14,000 leopards thought to live in the wild. The best location for leopards in India is Jawai. In this area it is even thought that leopards are the sacred guardians of the local ancient temples!

When to go: October – March is the best time to visit Jawai to see Asiatic leopards.

IND Cl India Rhino And Bird Richard Denyer

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#5: Snow Leopards

Snow leopards are one of the world’s most elusive big cats. They roam the rugged hills of Himalayas, remaining camouflage in the snow with their light grey/white pelt. With the help of expert guides you will follow tracks of the leopards’ prey as well as evidence from the snow leopards themselves to seek out these mysterious creatures.

Did you know: Snow leopards can jump as far as 15 metres and use their long tails for balance.

Snow leopards can be tracked in Hemis National Park, a high altitude reserve in the Ladakh region of India. Travel to Leh on our small group safari for the best chance of seeing snow leopards in the wild.

When to go: March-April is the best time to see snow leopards. This is when they come down from the high mountains in search of prey.

#6: Jackals

India jackals, found across a number of parks in India, have pelts that range from golden buff to black/brown depending on their habitat. They are also found on the outskirts of towns and villages where they scavenge for food.

Did you know: Solitary jackals have been known to form relationships with tigers, feeding on their kill remnants

The best parks to see jackals in India are Madhav National Park, Ranthambore National Park and Chilka Wildlife Sanctuary.

When to go: Ranthambore is open from October to June and jackals can be seen year round

#7: Chital

These elegant spotted deer are found throughout the Indian Subcontinent and it is a delight to see them graze and bound through the national parks of India. Their name is thought to derive from the same root as the cheetah, the Sanskrit citra meaning “bright” or “spotted”.

Did you know: The males’ antlers reach almost a metre in length!

Chital can be found roaming Kanha National Park so look out for them during your tiger tracking game drives.

When to go: Chital can be seen year-round but, as they blend in to the grasslands, the end of the dry season is best for clear sightings (March-April).

#8: Birds

There is a plethora of birdlife to be seen in India, one of our particular favourites are the Indian roller, stunning little birds that are part of the colourful roller family. Their brownish chests are accentuated with blue and purple-tipped wings that make them stand out against their habitats of forest and grasslands.

Did you know: Their name derives from the acrobatic movements they perform when flying. Ranthambore and Corbett National Parks are home to abundant bird species so should be on any twitcher’s bucket list when travelling to India. From water birds and woodpeckers to owls and birds of prey you will be astounded with the variety!

When to go: Indian rollers are not migratory birds so can generally be seen year-round but so have some seasonal movements. Even if Indian rollers aren’t around, Ranthambore boasts over 580 species of bird so you won’t be disappointed whenever you travel!

#9: Elephants

Asian elephants are notably different in size to their African cousins, with a slighter build and smaller ears as well as more of an arch in their back. Elephants need to drink at least once a day, so waterholes are your best bet to locate elephants in India’s parks.

Did you know: Elephants can feed for up to 19 hours a dayArguably the best park in India to see elephants in the wild is Corbett National Park. This is India’s oldest national park with five zones.

When to go: November to February is the best time to visit Corbett National Park.

#10: Asiatic Lions

Asiatic lions are smaller and shaggier than African lions, with a thicker somewhat lighter coat. They are much rarer than the African subspecies too with just over 500 remaining; Asiatic lions are therefore considered endangered.

Did you know: Populations of Asiatic lions are slowly rising which is great news! Sasan Gir National Park is the only place in the world that Asiatic lions can be found so seeing them is a real privilege.

When to go: March to May is the best time to spot Asiatic lions in Gir National Park. This time doesn’t coincide with other wildlife in the park but can be combined with tiger tracking in other parts of India.