Jaagir Lodge, India

Meet the Animals of the Jungle Book

Hannah Champion

Hannah Champion

04 Apr 2016

Look for the bare necessities...

With the release of Favreau’s version of The Jungle Book almost upon us, we here at Natural World Safaris want to give you the opportunity to see Colonel Hathi’s parade in the flesh and to seek out sly Shere Khan in the parks of India.

We are excited to see the depictions of India’s wildlife in this new film as opposed to the Disney depictions we have come to know and love. Despite Baloo’s blundering hulk of a body being instantly recognisable and Bagheera’s dark coat casting our minds back to our childhood, the selection of animals illustrated in Walt Disney’s film were not entirely true to nature in terms of their size, location and, of course, natural interactions! 

Let’s start with Baloo

With Rudyard Kipling’s novel being set in India, Baloo would have to be a sloth bear, which are notably smaller and darker than their North American counterparts the grizzly and the brown bear. Indeed, sloth bears do feed on fruits and insects which is correctly displayed in the Disney film, and they also have a fairly relaxed demeanour, however, Shere Khan would truly have been a threat to Baloo due to his slight size and docile nature.

If you want to see gentle sloth bears in India head to Forsyth Lodge in Satpura National Park

If you’d rather see large grizzly bears see our: North America safaris

Sloth bear, India
Swimming grizzly bear, Alaska

How about King Louie?

The lively, jazz-loving King Louie in Disney’s film was a dancing orangutan but as these cannot be found in the parks of India, Favreau has instead decided to portray a gigantopithecus, a now-extinct great ape species. This character is based on thorough research and has been created to represent true Indian fauna of days gone by.

Although you cannot see these species in present day India, you can head to Borneo to see characterful orangutans.

Wild orangutan, Borneo

And Bagheera…

Despite being a threatened species, black panthers can actually be found in India. They are often thought to only reside in the south of the country which is a different location to the tigers, elephants and sloth bears of India. However, they have been seen outside of this southern jungle habitat so it is possible for them to interact with the other species in the film. 

Where to see Shere Khan

Shere Khan is one of the species in both the Disney film and the Favreau version that is depicted completely correctly. Bengal tigers can be found in a number of parks in India and are known for being sly predators that sneak through long grasses in search of prey. Tigers are the largest of all the world’s big cats and we have a 99% success rating of clients seeing Bengal tigers in the wild on our safaris.

Find out the best parks in India to see tigers

Bengal tiger safari, India
Bengal tiger safari, India

Look out for Colonel Hathi’s herd

Finally, the herds of elephants in both Walt Disney’s 1967 classic and the 2016 Jon Favreau film are characteristically Indian elephants; with smaller ears than their African cousins. Asian elephants can also be found in a range of India’s parks and reserves so if you want to see Hathi Jnr. and his siblings then our destinations specialists can pick the parks for you.

Visit Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary to see Asian elephants as well as one-horned rhinoceros.

Elephant, India

Of course, we can allow a bit of cinematic licence when seeing our favourite creatures come to life on screen and we are excited to see this new action adventure film in the coming weeks. 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the new film and please do get in touch if you’d like us to help organise an Indian safari full of wildlife encounters!

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