Continue Exploring

Symbols of India

The Climate and the Land

Animals of India

The People

The Government

Animals and Animal Sanctuaries

India is the home of hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, and thousands of birds. The varied climate and landscape make it an ideal place for the wildlife. The rivers and the dense forests of the western Ghats add to the ecosystem, encouraging further growth.

To protect this national treasure, India has many wildlife sanctuaries and protection laws. Currently, there are about 80 national parks and 441 sactuaries. One of the most famous of these is Project Tiger, intended to protect the Bengal tiger--India's national animal. But there are others, throughout the country, each showcasing the animals unique to that region.

National Parks and Sanctuaries:

  • The Great Himalayan National Park in the state of Himachal Pradesh has both dense forests and mountain peaks that give way to valleys with many types of wildlife. The Tirthan valley has animals such as the black bear, leopard, and several types of mountain goats. There are also Himalayan birds (some unique to this state) like the colorful monal, golden eagle, and the red tragopan.

  • Dudhwa National Park, in the Uttar Pradesh, is also a northern tiger sanctuary. It displays fishing cats, wild pigs, the sloth bear, and the Indian rhinoceros. This park has extensive grasslands and many swamp areas that are home to birds including several types of storks, cranes, and the Great Indian Horned Owl.

  • Kaziranga is a National Park along the Brahmaputra river. This park, with its swamps and grasslands, is the largest sanctuary for the Indian Rhino. There are also elephants, buffalo, and wild boars. Several types of eagles native only to India are also present.

  • Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh is home to the red panda, elephants, a wild goat species called takin, and primates such as the hoolock gibbon and Assamese macaque. The rare snow leopard is present in the hill country. Namdapha is also a tiger sanctuary.

The Snow Leopard:

The Snow Leopard is white or smokey-gray with yellow and black patterns on the fur. It weighs 35-55 kilograms and is usually 60 centimeters tall at the shoulder. The Snow Leopard's large paws and long hind limbs give them agility in the snow and mountains, and a well-developed chest help adapt to mountain air.

They live in cliffs and mountainous areas, usually in rocky terrain. Besides India, leopards are found in Nepal, Pakistan, and Mongolia. They can kill prey up to 4 times their own weight, but are in danger from poaching for their pelts, loss of their natural prey base, and loss of land. Estimates suggest about 5,000 left in the wild.

Indian Rhinoceros:

There are about 3,000 Indian rhinos in the wild today. Unlike some other rhinos, Indian species have only 1 horn. They can weigh anywhere from 750 to 8,000 pounds and live up to 35 years. Rhinos are herbivores; they do not eat other animals. Instead, most eat the leaves of trees and bushes. They are solitary creatures, prefering to mark out their own territory and remain alone.

Rhinos are hunted by humans for their horns. They are extremely endangered; India's many wildlife sanctuaries are an attempt to curb their declining numbers.


Elephants are intelligent herbivore animals that live in family groups. The Indian (or Asian) elephant is smaller than the African, but it is still huge. They are about 8 feet tall and weigh up to 6 tons! Only some of the males have tusks. Their trunks are used to get water and food, as well as for breathing.

There are about 40,000 Indian elephants left throughout South Asia. India itself has the largest number, with about 57% of the total. One of the major threats to the Indian elephant is a distruction of its habitat by humans. Elephants need extensive grazing grounds and most reserves cannot accomodate them. There is also a serious poaching problem, as elephant ivory from the tusks is valued. In 1991, India began Project Elephant to ensure the survival of this animal and link elephant habitats to create larger grazing grounds.

To top of page

The creator of this site would like to thank:
The World Wildlife Federation Internation for wonderful information on so many animals
eIndia Tourism.com in Delhi for information on India's many wildlife parks and sanctuaries (http://www.eindiatourism.com)