By Elissa Poma, Deputy Director of Marketing and Communication for World Wildlife Fund

India is known, of course, for its tigers, and no visit to natural areas of the vast Asian nation is complete without time spent in tall grasses searching for the majestic big cat. Dozens of other wildlife species also abound in India’s top national parks.

Which animals are you most likely to see on an India wildlife safari?

  1. Sloth Bear

    Don’t let their ambling, feet-slapping gait fool you: sloth bears are capable of lopsidedly galloping faster than a human can run, and they are masters at tree climbing. The sloth bear is a masterful hunter of termites and ants, pillaging an anthill with puffs, grunts and a Hoover vacuum–like force.

  2.  One-horned Rhinoceros

    Kaziranga National Park in Assam was created in 1926 as a refuge for the one-horned rhino. Once hunted nearly to extinction, today this 2-ton beast is a conservation success story, rebounding to more than 1,600 individuals.

    One horned rhino in India.
    © Toby Sinclair


  3.  Guar

    The world’s largest species of wild cattle is the guar—also called Indian bison—and is among the largest living land mammals. Males often weigh 2,200 to 3,300 pounds. Only hippos, elephants and rhinos are larger.

    Gaur in India.
    © Toby Sinclair


  4. Kingfisher

    A number of species of the brightly colored bird with a cartoonishly oversized head and sharp beak are considered threatened or near threatened as a result of human activities, including deforestation. Seeing the shy bird with unusual behavior patterns in the wild, therefore, takes on special significance for the birding enthusiast.

    Kingfisher in India.
    © Court Whelan


  5. Common Langur

    Nearly 2 ½ feet tall, with gray hair and a black face, this “Old World monkey” species is often seen wandering through open, wooded habitat and urban settings. Common langurs sleep in trees but spend much of their waking time on the ground, usually in medium- to large-sized groups led by an alpha male.

    Common langur nursing baby in India.
    © Court Whelan


  6. Barasingha

    The endangered swamp deer is seen in the Kanha Tiger Reserve, which is home to the world’s last population of the spotted mammal. It strikingly possesses up to 14 points on its antlers, making it an attractive species to hunt or poach. However, an increase in farmland replacing its habitat of tall grasses is probably the main reason for its decreasing population.

    Swamp deer in India.
    © Surya Ramachandran


  7. Wild Dog

    Packs of them roam throughout Kanha and other natural areas. A few years ago a group of our travelers watched wide-eyed as a pack of 19 dogs chased an adolescent spotted deer across dry grasslands. The deer ran out of sight, leaving the travelers wondering about his fate.

    The Asiatic wild dog in India.
    © Surya Ramachandran


  8. Sambar

    Inhabiting much of southern Asia, the dark brown–colored deer wanders across Indian grasslands and through deciduous forests, feeding mainly on coarse vegetation, grass and herbs. It’s also a favored prey of tigers and crocodiles.

    Sambar deer in the river in India.
    © Toby Sinclair


  9. Bengal Monitor

    Not as fearsome as their counterparts on Indonesia’s Komodo Island, India’s monitor lizards are solitary and shy and tend to avoid contact with humans. They can grow to nearly 6 feet long.

    Bengal monitor in India.
    © Toby Sinclair


  10. Rhesus Macaque

    Though notorious as urban pests throughout India, rhesus macaques exhibit more fascinating behavior when studied in their natural habitat. Troops of them can contain up to 180 individuals.

    Rhesus macaque with baby.
    © Brad Josephs