We often talk about the extinction of one species or another, and yet, we don’t really know much about these species.
Our lack of awareness has brought us to a point where we risk losing some of India’s rarest and most exotic animals forever.
1. Kashmir Stag (Critically Endangered)
Handsome, but shy and elusive; this sub-species of red deer once lorded over the entire Kashmir Valley. Now it is confined to just the Dachigam National Park, Kashmir.
If you are lucky enough to spot one, you will never forget its spectacular, multi-pronged antlers.
2. Himalayan Brown Bear (Critically Endangered)
Brown Bears are one of the most widespread bear species in the world. The Himalayan Brown Bear, however, is not so fortunate. Even though the large mammal was recently spotted in Kargil’s Dras region, loss of habitat is pushing it towards extinction.
Head off to one of these national parks – The Great Himalayan National Park, Hemis National Park, or Nanda Devi National Park – and you might see the giant mammal walking upright.
3. The Great Indian Bustard (Critically Endangered)
Godawan, as it is popularly known, once used to dominate the Indian plains. The bird is now finding it hard to survive in the absence of its home.
Desert National Park, in Rajasthan, is the only place where you can get to see India’s own Ostrich with its distinctive black crown.
4. Pygmy Hog (Critically Endangered)
The fact that they are the smallest and rarest wild pigs on this planet should be enough for us to save them from extinction.
Today, these extraordinary animals are found in just three places, in Assam—Manas, Sonai Rupai and Orang—with less than 250 mature ones surviving at the moment.
5. Namdapha Flying Squirrel (Critically Endangered)
These beautiful mammals have always been confined to a small region in Northeast India. However, they are still not safe from human preying.
The largest protected area in the Eastern Himalayas, Namdapha National Park, is the only home to the few squirrels left.
6. Red Panda (Endangered)
While black and white pandas are known to be lazy, their red-haired brethren are super active. Known for their acrobatic skills, Red Pandas inhabit the Himalayan region and are highly endangered due to excessive deforestation.
While you can see them in the protected areas of Northeast India, if you wish to spot them in the wild, you should take an eco-trip to the Himalayas.
7. Indian Wild Dog (Endangered)
Unlike commonly found canine traits, the Indian Wild Dog – also known as ‘Dhole’ – has unique characteristics. They are so efficient as predators that there have been reports of them even attacking tigers. However, even this prowess doesn’t safeguard the animal from the endangered list.
With just a few remaining adults in the wild, you can see them in some of the protected areas in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Kerala.
8. Eld’s Deer (Endangered)
Widely hunted for their bow-shaped antlers, conservation efforts to save this species have been in place since the 1990s. Also known as ‘dancing deer’, they have specific habitat requirements and inhabit the floating biomass in Loktak Lake, Manipur.
The only place you can see them in India is the Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur.
9. Gee’s Golden Langur (Endangered)
Named after their luscious coats, Golden Langurs are considered sacred by the Himalayan people. The species has been listed under ‘World’s 25 most endangered primates’.
They rarely set foot on the ground, but you can spot them sitting atop trees in the Manas National Park, Assam.
10. Gharial (Critically Endangered)
Gharial is a unique crocodilian species of extraordinary conservation value. It is the rarest large animal on the Indian subcontinent.
The last refuge of the gharial is the Chambal River in northern India. You can see them in captivity in the National Chambal Gharial Wildlife Sanctuary.
11. Jerdon’s Courser (Critically Endangered)
An extremely elusive bird found only in a small part of Andhra Pradesh, it is mostly active during the night. It prefers to walk although, it can fly quite well.
It was last spotted in the wild in 2009, but can be seen in captivity in Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary, Andhra Pradesh.
12. Lion-Tailed Macaque (Endangered)
Native to the Western Ghats of South India, this species of primates has a mane of hair and a tail that make it look like a lion.
Large scale destruction of forests has led to the loss of its habitat. Nilgiri Hills Biosphere Reserve is one of the protected areas for them.
13. Nilgiri Tahr (Endangered)
The state animal of Tamil Nadu, it is a stocky wild goat native to the hills of Southern India. Eravikulam National Park in Kerala has the highest density and largest surviving population of the Nilgiri Tahr.
14. Ganges River Dolphin (Endangered)
It is the national aquatic animal of India and is quite different from oceanic dolphins. Vikramashila Dolphin Gangetic Sanctuary and Dibru Saikhowa National Park are the two best places to spot them.
15. White-bellied heron (Critically Endangered)
Also known as the imperial heron, it is the second largest species of heron in the world and is found in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas.
Namdapha Tiger Reserve in Arunachal Pradesh is home to the surviving population.
16. Bengal Florican (Critically endangered)
A highly threatened and rare bird, it is the size of a large duck. Its population has suffered a dramatic decline owing to the widespread and ongoing conversion of its wet-grassland habitat to agricultural land.
Dudhwa and Kaziranga National Parks, in Assam are the places where you can sight this beautiful bird.
17. Snow Leopard (Vulnerable)
It is one of the most secretive cats and not many people in the world have had the privilege to see them in the wild in India.
Thanks to conservation efforts, the species has recently been moved from Endangered to Vulnerable status and can be spotted in the Hemis and Nanda Devi National Parks in the Himalayas.
This could be humanity’s last chance to save these animals from extinction.