List of Top 10 Must See Wild Life Sanctuaries in India

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Introduction

The wildlife in India comprises a mix of species of different types of organisms. Apart from a handful of the major farm animals such as cows, buffaloes, goats, poultry, pigs and dragon, India has an amazingly wide variety of animals native to the country. It is home to Bengal tigers, Indian lions, deer, pythons, wolves, foxes, bears, crocodiles, camels, wild dogs, monkeys, snakes, antelope species, varieties of bison and the Asian elephant. The region's rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in 89 national parks, 18 Bio-reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country. India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and hosts three of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots – or treasure-houses – that is the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas and Indo- Burma. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species, wildlife management in the country is essential to preserve these species. India is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries. According to one study, India along with other 16 mega diverse countries is home to about 60-70 % of the world's biodiversity.

India is home to several well-known large mammals, including the Asian elephant, Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion, leopard, sloth bear and Indian rhinoceros. Some other well-known large Indian mammals are: ungulates such as the rare wild Asian water buffalo, common domestic Asian water buffalo, gail, gaur, and several species of deer and antelope. Some members of the dog family, such as the Indian wolf, Bengal fox and golden jackal, and the dhole or wild dogs are also widely distributed. However, the dhole, also known as the whistling hunter, is the most endangered top Indian carnivore, and the Himalayan wolf is now a critically endangered species endemic to India. It is also home to the striped hyena, macaques, langur and mongoose species.

How we Approached

Few things we considered while listing the top 10 are here.

  1. Size;
  2. Variety of fauna;
  3. How it is perceived by travelers;
  4. Geographical Distribution - We tried to make sure we cover the whole of India;
  5. Diversity: How diverse the wild life sanctuaries are in terms of weather?

The Final List in no Particular Order

  1. Wild Life in Gir Forest National Park, Gujarat:

    The Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest and wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, India. Established in 1975, with a total area of 1412 km² (about 258 km² for the fully protected area (the national park) and 1153 km² for the Sanctuary), the park is located 43 km in the north-east from Somnath, 65 km to the south-east of Junagadh and 60 km to south west of Amreli. It is the sole home of the Asiatic Lions (Panthera Leo persica) and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. The ecosystem of Gir, with its diverse flora and fauna, is protected as a result of the efforts of the government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs. The forest area of Gir and its lions were declared as "protected" in the early 1900s by the Nawab of the princely state of Junagadh. This initiative assisted in the conservation of the lions whose population had plummeted to only 15 through slaughter for trophy hunting. The April 2010 census recorded the lion-count in Gir at 411, an increase of 52 compared to 2005. The lion breeding programme covering the park and surrounding area has bred about 180 lions in captivity since its inception.


    The seven major perennial rivers of the Gir region are Hiran, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari and Raval. The four reservoirs of the area are at four dams, one each on Hiran, Machhundri, Raval and Shingoda rivers, including the biggest reservoir in the area, the Kamleshwar Dam, dubbed 'the lifeline of Gir'. (DETAILS)

  2. Wild Life in Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal:

    The Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve in India. It is part of the Sundarbans on the Ganges Delta of India and Bangladesh. The delta is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. It is also home to a variety of bird, reptile and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodile. The present Sundarbans National Park was declared as the core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973 and a wildlife sanctuary in 1977. On 4 May 1984 it was declared a National Park. 


    Sundarbans National Park is located in between 21° 32' - 21° 55' N latitude and between 88° 42' - 89° 04' E longitude in West Bengal in India. The average altitude of the park is 7.5 m above sea level. The park is made up of 54 small islands and is crisscrossed by several tributaries of the Ganges. Sundarbans National Park is the largest estuarine mangrove forest in the world. 

    The coastal active delta of Sunderbans at the mouth of Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh, having a complex geomorphologic and hydrological character with climatic hazards, has a vast area of mangrove forests with a variety of flora and diverse fauna in a unique ecosystem. The natural environment and coastal ecosystem of this Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site is under threat of physical disaster due to unscientific and excessive human interferences. Conservation and environmental management plan for safeguarding this unique coastal ecology and ecosystem is urgently required. (DETAILS)

  3. Wild Life in Simlipal National Park, Odisha: A habitat for the "White Tiger"

    Simlipal National Park is a national park and an elephant reserve situated in the Mayurbhanj district in the Indian state of Odisha. Simlipal National Park derives its name from the abundance of Semul or red silk cotton trees that bloom abundantly in the locality. The park has an area of 845.70 square kilometers (326.53 sq. mi) and has some beautiful waterfalls like Joranda and Barehipani. Simlipal is home to ninety-nine Royal Bengal Tigers, 432 Wild elephants. Besides Simlipal is famous for Gaurs (Indian Bisons), Chausingha, as well as an orchidarium. One can enter into Similipal through Pithabata (22 kilometers (14 mi) from Baripada) and 98 km via Jashipur. Entry permits can be obtained from the Range Officer, Pithabata check gate upon paying prescribed fees. Day visitors can enter between 6 AM & 12 Noon and visitors with reservation between 6 AM & 9 AM. Similipal National Park remains open from 1 October to 15 June only.

    The park is a treasure house of 1076 species of plants belonging to 102 families. 96 species of orchids have also been identified here. It has a mixed type of vegetation known as Odisha semi-evergreen forests with tropical moist broadleaf forest and tropical moist deciduous forests with dry deciduous hill forest and high level Sal forests. The grasslands and the savannas provide grazing grounds for the herbivores and hiding place to the carnivores. The forest boasts of innumerable medicinal and aromatic plants, which provide a source of earnings for the tribal people. Eucalyptus, planted by the British during the 1900 are also found. (DETAILS)

  4. Wild Life in Kaziranga National Park in Assam:

    Kaziranga National Park is a national park in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of the state of Assam, India. A World Heritage Site, the park hosts two-thirds of the world's Great One-horned Rhinoceroses. Kaziranga boasts the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. The park is home to large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer. Kaziranga is recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species. Compared to other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility. Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water. Kaziranga has been the theme of several books, songs, and documentaries. The park celebrated its centennial in 2005 after its establishment in 1905 as a reserve forest. Kaziranga has flat expanses of fertile, alluvial soil formed by erosion and silt deposition by the Brahmaputra. The landscape consists of exposed sandbars, riverine flood-formed lakes known as, beels, (which make up 5% of the surface area), and elevated regions known as, chapories, which provide retreats and shelter for animals during floods. Many artificial chapories have been built with the help of the Indian Army to ensure the safety of the animals.

    Kaziranga is one of the largest tracts of protected land in the sub-Himalayan belt, and due to the presence of highly diverse and visible species, has been described as a "biodiversity hotspot". The park is located in the Indomalaya ecozone, and the dominant biomes of the region are Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests of the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome and a frequently flooded variant of the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands of the tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome. (DETAILS)

  5. Wild Life in Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh:

    Bandhavgarh National Park is one of the popular national parks in India located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh. Bandhavgarh was declared a national park in 1968, with an area of 105 km². The buffer is spread over the forest divisions of Umaria and Katni and totals 437 km². The park derives its name from the most prominent hillock of the area, which is said to be given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Lakshmana to keep a watch on Lanka (Ceylon). The density of the tiger population at Bandhavgarh is one of the highest known in India. The park has a large breeding population of leopards, and various species of deer. Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa captured the first white tiger in this region in 1951. This white tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajas of Rewa. Historically villagers and their cattle have been a threat to the tiger but with the rising mining activities around the park the tigers are not expected to survive longer. 

    Bandhavgarh has the highest density of Bengal tigers known in the world, and is home to some famous named individual tigers. Charger, an animal so named because of his habit of charging at elephants and tourists (whom he nonetheless did not harm), was the first healthy male known to be living in Bandhavgarh since the 1990s. A female known as Sita, who once appeared on the cover of National Geographic and is considered the most photographed tiger in the world was also to be found in Bandhavgarh for many years. Almost all the tigers of Bandhavgarh today are descendants of Sita and Charger. Their daughter Mohini, son Langru and B2 also maintained their tradition for frequent sighting and moving close to tourist jeeps. (DETAILS)

  6. Wild Life in Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan:

    Ranthambore National Park or Ranthambhore is one of the largest national parks in northern India. It is situated in Sawai Madhopur district of southeastern Rajasthan, about 110 km north east of Kota and 160 km south east of Jaipur, which is also the nearest airport. The nearest town and railway station is at Sawai Madhopur, about 11 km away; Kota is another convenient station as all trains stop here. RIDCOR operates a mega highway between Kota and Ranthambhore. 


    Ranthambhore was established as the Sawai Madhopur Game Sanctuary in 1955 by the Government of India, and was declared one of the Project Tiger reserves in 1973. Ranthambore became a national park in 1980. In 1984, the adjacent forests were declared the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary and Keladevi Sanctuary, and in 1991 the tiger reserve was enlarged to include the Sawai Man Singh and Keladevi sanctuaries. Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary is known for its tigers and is one of the best places in India to see these majestic predators in the jungle. Tigers can be easily spotted even during the day time. A good time to visit Ranthambore National Park is in November and May when the nature of the dry deciduous forests makes sightings common. Its deciduous forests were once a part of the magnificent jungles of Central India. (DETAILS)

  7. Wild Life in Jim Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand:

    Jim Corbett National Park is the oldest national park in India and was established in 1936 as Hailey National Park to protect the endangered Bengal tiger. It is located in Nainital district of Uttarakhand and was named after Jim Corbett who played a key role in its establishment. The park was the first to come under the Project Tiger initiative.


    The park has sub-Himalayan belt geographical and ecological characteristics. An ecotourism destination, it contains 488 different species of plants and a diverse variety of fauna. The increase in tourist activities, among other problems, continues to present a serious challenge to the park's ecological balance. Corbett has been a haunt for tourists and wildlife lovers for a long time. Tourism activity is only allowed in selected areas of Corbett Tiger Reserve so that people get an opportunity to see its splendid landscape and the diverse wildlife. In recent years the number of people coming here has increased dramatically. Presently, every season more than 70,000 visitors come to the park from India and other countries. (DETAILS)

  8. Wild Life at Nanda Devi National Park, Garhwal Himalayas of Uttarakhand:

    The Nanda Devi National Park is a national park situated around the peak of Nanda Devi, 7,817 m (25,646 ft) in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India that was established in 1982. Along with the adjoining Valley of Flowers National Park to the northwest, it was inscribed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Nanda Devi National Park covers an area of 630.33 km2 (243.37 sq mi) and together with Valley of Flowers National Park is encompassed in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve totaling a protected area of 2,236.74 km2 (863.61 sq mi), which is surrounded by a buffer zone of 5,148.57 km2 (1,987.87 sq mi). This Reserve is part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves since 2004. The park encompasses the Nanda Devi Sanctuary, a glacial basin surrounded by a ring of peaks between 6,000 metres (19,700 ft) and 7,500 m (24,600 ft) high, and drained by the Rishi Ganga through the Rishi Ganga Gorge, a steep, almost impassable defile. The entire park lies at an elevation of more than 3,500 m (11,500 ft) above mean sea level.

    Common larger mammals are Himalayan musk deer, Mainland serow and Himalayan tahr. Gorals are not found within, but in the vicinity of the Park. Carnivores are represented by common leopards, Himalayan black bear and perhaps also brown bear. Langurs are found within the park, whereas rhesus macaque are known to occur in the neighboring areas of the park. In a scientific Expedition in 1993, a total of 114 bird species was recognized. (DETAILS)

  9. Silent Valley National Park, Western Ghats (Wayanad) of Kerala:

    Silent Valley National Park, (Core zone: 236.74 square kilometres (91 sq mi)) is located in the Nilgiri Hills, Palakkad District in Kerala, South India. The area in this national park was historically explored in 1847 by the botanist Robert Wight,and is associated with Hindu legend.

    The park is one of the last undisturbed tracts of South Western Ghats mountain rain forests and tropical moist evergreen forest in India. Contiguous with the proposed Karimpuzha National Park (225 km²) to the north and Mukurthi National Park (78.46 km²) to the north-east, it is the core of the Nilgiri International Biosphere Reserve (1,455.4 km²), and is part of The Western Ghats World Heritage Site, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²) THUNDER consideration by UNESCO.

    Plans for a hydroelectric project that threatened the parks high diversity of wildlife stimulated an environmentalist Social Movement in the 1970s called Save Silent Valley which resulted in cancellation of the project and creation of the park in 1980. The visitors' centre for the park is at Sairandhri. (DETAILS)

  10. Wild Life in Bandipur National Park in Western Ghats, Karnataka:

    Bandipur National Park, established in 1974 as a tiger reserve under Project Tiger, is a national park located in the south Indian state of Karnataka. It was once a private hunting reserve for the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore. Bandipur is known for its wildlife and has many types of biomes, but dry deciduous forest is dominant. The park spans an area of 874 square kilometers (337 sq. mi), protecting several species of India's endangered wildlife. Together with the adjoining Nagarhole National Park (643 km2 (248 sq. mi)), Mudumalai National Park (320 km2 (120 sq. mi)) and Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (344 km2 (133 sq. mi)), it is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve totaling 2,183 km2 (843 sq. mi) making it the largest protected area in southern India. Bandipur is located in Gundlupet taluq of Chamarajanagar district. It is about 80 kilometers (50 mi) from the city of Mysore on the route to a major tourist destination of Ooty. As a result, Bandipur sees a lot of tourist traffic and there are a lot of wildlife fatalities caused by speeding vehicles that are reported each year. There is a ban on traffic from the hours of dusk to dawn to help bring down deaths of wildlife.

Bandipur National Park located between 75° 12’ 17” E to 76° 51’ 32” E and 11° 35’ 34” N to 11° 57’ 02” N where the Deccan Plateau meets the Western Ghats and the altitude of the park ranges from 680 meters (2,230 ft.) to 1,454 meters (4,770 ft.). As a result, the park has a variety of biomes including dry deciduous forests, moist deciduous forests and shrublands. The wide range of habitats help support a diverse range of organisms. The park is flanked by the Kabini River in the north and the Moyar River in the south. (DETAILS).
 
We are sure we must have missed quite a few of your favorite ones. To see the whole list of wild life sanctuaries in India CLICK HERE.
 
Also do not forget to see our INDIA ADVENTURE BUCKET LIST.

 

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  • Continent: Asia
  • Country: India
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  • Zone: east, west, north, south
  • Region: Himalayan Range,Western Ghats
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  • Location: India
  • Season: jan, feb, mar, apr, may, june, july, aug, sept, oct, nov, dec
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