Watch our video to see why our specialists love Rajasthan...
India wildlife guide
Take a look at the wildlife you can expect to see when taking a trip to India.
Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris)
The tiger is the largest of the big cats and is recognisable by its distinctive striped fur; their stripes are like fingerprints, no two tigers have identical markings. They are solitary hunters and generally search for food at night. They are incredibly powerful and creep up on their prey with great stealth. Unlike other big cats, they are good swimmers.
Found: in thick jungle
Interesting fact: their roar can be heard up to 3km away
Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Distinguishable by its magnificent black-spotted coat, the leopard is recognised for its extreme stealth and versatility. It is the smallest of all the big cats but the most widespread of all wild cat species. The leopard can stalk its prey within metres, before giving chase using its powerful back legs and reaching speeds of up to 60km per hour.
Found: most likely to be spotted in Jawai, Rajasthan
Interesting fact: they drag their prey up a tree to avoid scavangers
Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)
Incredibly rare and difficult to spot, snow leopards have evolved to live in some of the least hospitable places on Earth. They have a thick white-grey coat with large black rosettes, which provides both insulation and camouflage. They have wide feet to walk lightly on soft snow and long tails which they use for balance on steep slopes.
Found: in high, cold mountains usually over 3,000m
Interesting fact: they are the top predator in their environment so are vital to regulate other smaller species
Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Asian elephants play an important role in the religious and cultural history of India. They are smaller than their African cousins and have significantly smaller ears. They live in groups of six or seven related females led by an older matriarch. Asian elephants are now endangered, but India has the largest population of wild Asian elephants.
Found: in semi-evergreen and dry tropical forest
Interesting fact: they eat an average of 150kg per day to survive
Asian buffalo (Bubalus arnee)
Weighing more than 1,000kg, the Asian buffalo (or water buffalo) is an enormous, powerful animal. They have a wider horn span than any other bovid, spanning up to two metres, and well-adapted hooves that are widely splayed which allow them to walk with ease on marshy ground. The female buffalo takes charge, forming a matriarchal society.
Found: in muddy grasslands near large water sources
Interesting fact: they rest in water up to their nostrils to keep cool
Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)
Also known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros, the Indian rhinoceros is native to the Indian subcontinent. Unlike African rhinos, they have a single black horn that can range from eight to 25 inches long. They have sharp hearing and a strong sense of smell, which they use to locate one another.
Found: mostly seen in Kaziranga National Park in Assam
Interesting fact: they can charge at speeds of up to 50km/h
Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus)
The sloth bear is a small bear covered with a long shaggy coat, which is typically dark in colour. A distinctive cream ‘u’ shape on the chest and inward turned feet make this bear stand out from other bears. Insects are their main food source and they use their claws to rip open termite mounds, before sucking up the termites through a gap in their front teeth.
Found: in dry forests below 300m
Interesting fact: young cubs ride on their mother’s back
Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes)
The Indian wolf is a subspecies of the grey wolf native to Asia. It is medium in size and has a shorter, thinner coat than other wolves, to adapt it to warmer habitats. They are believed to be less possessive over their territory than other wolves, and as a result rarely howl. Mothers move their den regularly in order to protect their pups.
Found: mostly found on dry, open land
Interesting fact: pups are born dark with a white patch on their chest which fades with age
Striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena)
The striped hyena is the smallest hyena species and the only one found in India. They are primarily scavengers, but larger individuals have been known to kill their own prey. They can digest body parts that other animals cannot, including hooves and horns. They are nomadic and move from one waterhole to another.
Found: in most habitats except dense forest
Interesting fact: they have the strongest jaw pressure and most powerful bite of any animal in the world
Golden jackal (Canis aureus)
A slender member of the canid family, the golden jackal is the largest jackal species, similar in size to a small wolf. They are highly territorial, usually moving around during the night, and use a high-pitched howl to communicate at dawn and dusk. They scavenge where possible, but when needed will also hunt reptiles, birds and young antelope.
Found: in forests and mangroves
Interesting fact: breeding pairs mate for life
Dhole (Cuon alpinus)
Also known as the Indian wild dog, the dhole was once widespread in Asia but is now very rare. They have reddish brown fur with white areas. They are powerful predators and hunt (and live) in packs of around 10 individuals, enabling them to bring down animals 10 times their own body weight.
Found: in deciduous and evergreen forest
Interesting fact: they featured in The Jungle Book as the ferocious red dogs
Sambar (Rusa unicolor)
One of many antelope species found in India, the sambar is a quiet, nocturnal deer. Females live in small herds of up to 16 individuals, while male sambars live alone for much of the year. Females are very protective of their young and will defend them from most predators, which is rare among deer species.
Found: mostly found in woodlands
Interesting fact: they have smaller antlers than most other Asian deer species
Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus)
The Hanuman langur is a monkey native to the Indian subcontinent. They are grey with black faces and ears and they live in troops which can range from 20 to 100 individuals. Most troops have only one adult male, leading to complex politics in which a bachelor male may try to overthrow a leader.
Found: they live in forests but are often found in urban areas, particularly around temples
Interesting fact: they are regarded as sacred in Hinduism
Mugger (Crocodylus palustris)
The mugger is the most common crocodile in India. They have a broad snout and usually feed on fish, reptiles and aquatic birds, but supplement their diet by preying on mammals who come to the water to drink. Males thrash their tails to gain dominance and breeding rights.
Found: in freshwater habitats
Interesting fact: the gender of a crocodile depends on the temperature of the eggs during the incubation period
Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica)
This is a subspecies of the South Asian river dolphin. It has a long thin snout and a rounded belly and swims while trailing one flipper on the muddy river surface to help it find food. They cannot breathe underwater so surface every two minutes, making them easier to spot.
Found: in the Ganges River
Interesting fact: they are also known as the Ganges susu due to the sound they make when they breathe
Common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
The common kingfisher is a beautiful bright blue bird with an orange breast. The female is larger than the male. As the name suggests, they feed mostly on fish, but supplement their diet with aquatic insects, frogs and crustaceans. They hunt from a perch before plunging steeply down and seizing their prey with their long beak.
Found: in varied habitats, often close to water sources
Interesting fact: they consume almost 60% of their body weight daily
Great hornbill (Buceros bicornis)
Also known as the great Indian hornbill, this is one of the larger hornbills. It has a black and white body with a yellow beak and neck feathers. They use their large bill to collect fruits, particularly figs. They often roost in communal nests with three or four others, usually in the top branches of a tree.
Found: in evergreen and moist deciduous forest
Interesting fact: the male feeds the female for up to five months before mating
Indian peafowl (Pavo cristatus)
The Indian peafowl is the national bird of India and exudes grace. Males, known as peacocks, have the most spectacular characteristics, with their flamboyant tails in shades of blue, green and yellow, which they fan out to surround themselves. Females, known as peahens, are brown in colour and lack the long tail feathers.
Found: anywhere from semi-dry grassland to moist deciduous forest
Interesting fact: males display their tail feathers to attract a mate
Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis)
The black-necked crane is a medium-sized Asian crane with a black neck and head and a distinctive red crown. These graceful birds are an important part of the Himalayan ecosystem. Their population is declining but conservation measures are in place to try to reverse this.
Found: in the remote Himalayas, around Ladakh
Interesting fact: the red crown becomes brighter in a breeding pair