India has one of the most biodiverse regions and it consists of a large number of flora and fauna species. There are different ecozones in India namely mountains, deserts, grasslands, plains, tropical and temperate forests, etc. India has been home to different and deadliest animals like the Black Bear, Snow leopard, Asian elephant, Black-buck, Golden Langur, Swamp deer, etc.
According to a survey done by the Government of India (GoI), 89,451 species are found in India under different physical and climatic conditions which include Protista, mollusks, anthropods, amphibia, Mammalia, Reptilia, members of protochordate, Pisces, aves and other invertebrates. There are approximately 500 species of mammals, 30,000 species of insects and 2000 species of birds and wide varieties of reptiles and amphibians. Below is the list of 10 popular wild animals found in India:
1) Indian Rhinoceros:
These are also known as “One Horned Rhinoceros” and these are found in the northeastern side of India mainly in Assam. These have thick grey-brown skin with pink skin folds and a black colored horn. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered with a certain type of bump. They were once found from Pakistan to the Indian-Myanmar border including Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. But due to climatic conditions and habitat destruction they are now only found in areas of Assam, northern Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. In 2006, the total population was estimated to be 2,575 individuals and now they are around 3500. They are found in Kaziranga, Manas, Dudhwa National Parks. Their conservation status is vulnerable.
2) Indian Elephant:
These are smaller than the African Elephants and they are included in endangered conservation status. They are present mainly in four parts in India. First is in the Northwest (at the foot of the Himalayas in U.P. and Uttarakhand), secondly in Northeast (in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya), thirdly in the central part (Odisha, Jharkhand) and lastly in the South (the Western Ghats in Karnataka). The total population is around 31,000. Mostly they are found in South India, in grasslands, evergreen, and semi-evergreen forests.
3) Asiatic Lion:
The name was given by Austrian Zoologist Johann N. Meyer in 1826. According to the survey from 2010, their population has increased significantly to 650 in 2017. They are one of the deadliest animals in India right now. Up to the 19th century, they existed in countries like Iran, Turkey but now they have been living only in Gir national park. They are now an endangered species.
4) Royal Bengal Tiger:
It is the national animal of India and since it is found mostly in West Bengal it has been named Royal Bengal Tiger. Most of their population resides in Kanha National Park. Their population is approximately 2,603 to 3,346. It ranks second among the biggest wild cats and it is only smaller than Siberian Tiger. These are also endangered species.
5) Sloth Bear:
It is also regarded as “Labiated Bear” because it has a long lower lip and palate which is used for sucking insects. They have a breading period during spring and early summer. They are regarded as vulnerable species. They have a population of around 20,000. About four species of them can be found in India.
6) Indian Leopard:
It is one of the huge cats on the Indian subcontinent apart from Asiatic Lion and Royal Bengal tiger. According to surveys, their total population is around 12,000 to 14,000. They are categorized as vulnerable species as they are hunted for their skins and body parts. These have quite strong legs and a long well-formed tail, short ears and small, yellowish-grey eyes. They can be found in Satpura, Gir, Nagarhole National Parks.
7) Nilgai (Blue Bull):
They are one of the most found species in India with a population of over one million and they have a conservation status of least concern. Blue Bull is called Nilgai in the common tongue. Nilgai is the biggest Asian antelope and is commonly found in Indian grasslands. It stands up to 1-1.5 meters nearly 3.3 to 9.4 ft at the shoulder. They can be seen in Gir National Park. Nilgai is the biggest Asian antelope and is commonly found in Indian grasslands. They weigh around 100 to 288 kgs. They are herbivores and they eat grasses, herbs, and small bushes. Their nature is silent normally but on teasing they roar hard and may be dangerous.
8) Gaur (Indian Bison):
It is regarded as the strongest bovine species and it can only be found in India. It has a conservation status of vulnerable species. These are also the largest among wild cattle species. It has a worldwide population of 21,000 but for three consecutive decades, it has lost 70 percent of its total population. It can be seen in Kanha and Periyar national park in evergreen and moist deciduous forests.
9) Ghudkhur (Indian Wild Ass):
It is also known as Khur or Indian Onager in Gujrati language. It is near to being called a threatened species. These have a population of about 4,451. These possess erect, dark mane from the back of the head to the neck portion. They can be found in Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. They can run at a speed of 70 km per hour. Their common habitat is saline deserts and arid grasslands. In these species, males are quite large as compared to females. Currently, India ranks third in terms of the number of Ghudkhur found in the world.
They are called Swamp Deer. They are found in northern and central India. In common tongue, they are referred to as Barasingha and in English, it means 12 horned deer. They are pun under the tag of vulnerable species. They have a population of 350. It is also the state animal of Madhya Pradesh. It is mostly found in Kanha National Park as the government has made a special breeding ground scheme for the species. During the mid 20th century they became vulnerable due to sudden decline in the strength of the species. Most of the reasons were hunting and poaching but efforts have been made by the government for the protection of the species.
There are some other famous wild animals like Wild Water Buffalo, Snow Leopard, Indian Rock Python, King Cobra, Blackbuck, etc. Thus, we can conclude that India is rich in wildlife. It is also home to some species that are only found in India. But there has been a constant threat to these species as the time has passed due to ever increase in the greed of human beings as there are involved in activities like hunting and poaching.
Before independence, hunting was regarded as a sports activity by Indian kings, and even British officials used to get involved in these killing activities. It resulted in a decrease in the population of tigers and lions in India. But after Independence, Government has also tried to protect wildlife by creating various wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
Wildlife Protection Act has also been passed in 1972 to protect the endangered species. But still, several species have become extinct and some are on the verge of extinction. Thus, it is on us to create awareness among people and to startup some NGOs to protect wildlife and to punish those who are involved in animal hunting. Only then there will be some improvement in the population.