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Top 10 Must-See Mammal Species in India

snow leopard in india

Top 10 Must-See Mammal Species in India

India is one of the topmost countries in the world as far as wildlife viewing is concerned. With over 75% of the wild tiger population being in India the tiger sightings have improved considerably over the years.

Here are some of the top Indian Wildlife Species apart from Tiger which I would say must-see. Some of the must-see and endangered species of India are Snow Leopard, One-horned Rhinoceros, Red Panda, Hoolock Gibbon, Asiatic Wild Dog, Asiatic Lions, Lion Tailed Macaque, Indian Leopard, Indian Grey Wolf, Himalayan Wolf, Kashmiri Hungal, Barasingha, Takin and many more.

The Mammal Diversity Database (MDD) currently identifies 6,495 valid mammal species. This number includes 6,399 living species and 96 that have recently gone extinct. This count is higher compared to the Mammal Species of the World (MSW), which recognized 1,058 living and 21 extinct species. Over about 13 years, there has been a 19.9% increase in mammal species. Since the MSW, the MDD has acknowledged 1,251 new species, with 720 being split from existing ones and 531 being completely new descriptions. Additionally, around 172 species previously considered distinct were combined after the MSW release. The MDD documents a total of 1,314 genera (up by 88 from MSW), 167 families (up by 14), and 27 orders (down by 2). Notably, the MDD includes 17 domesticated species to connect these animals derived from wild populations with their extensive trait data, like DNA sequences and reproductive information. Read More at World Animal Foundation.


1982 1993 2005 2017 2023
 Total 4,170 4,631a 5,416 5,560 6,495
 Extinct NA NA 75 85b 96
 Living NA NA 5,341 5,475 6,399
 Living wild NA NA 5,338 5,475 6,382
Genera 1,033 1,135 1,230 1,267 1,314
Families 135 132 153 159 167
Orders 20 26 29 27 27


In India, Chiropterans (Bats) have the most species (115), followed by Rodents (101), with these two taxa accounting for 51.06 per cent of all mammal species in the country. Even toed ungulates or Artiodactyls (37), aquatic mammals, Cetaceans (33), Soricomorphs (29), Primates (23), Lagomorphs (11), Perissodactyls (5), Scandents (3), Erinaceomorphs (3), Pholidots (2), Proboscidean (1), Rhinocerotidae (1) and Sirenian (1) are among the 59 species of Indian carnivores.


The Top 10 Must-See Mammal Species in India are as listed below:

Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)

Bengal tigers are the most gorgeous and uncommon mammals. They are one of the most wondrous and iconic animals to inhabit the Earth. They are also the world’s largest cat species. Bengal tigers are larger on average than other tiger species, however, the world’s largest tiger recorded is a Siberian. Bengal tigers are thus the second-largest tiger species. A male can weigh around 200 Kg on average and a female weighs around 140 kg on average. Tigers are the largest felines that rely on being able to approach near enough to their prey before ambushing it alone. Tigers are solitary and highly territorial animals. Sometimes a male fights to the death over territory or for a mate.


tiger safari in Corbett National Park


Some of the best national parks where we can see Tigers in the wild are in Central India Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park, Tadoba National Park, Pench National Park and the Northern part of India are Corbett National Park and Ranthambore National Park. Our Just Tigers Tour is the best tour to get the chances of seeing maximum Tigers.

Explore Tiger Safari Tours in India


Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica)

The lion is one of the world’s largest, strongest, and most powerful felines, second only to the Siberian Tiger in size. The Asiatic Lion male can weigh around 170 kg on average and female weigh around 120 kg.  While most big cats hunt alone, the Asiatic Lions are extremely gregarious animals who live in family groups known as pride. They are among the most popular animals on the planet.

In comparison to the African lion’s broader mane, the Asiatic lion’s mane is shorter, sparse, and darker. As a result, the ears of male Asiatic lions are usually exposed at all times. The Asiatic lion’s most noticeable feature is a longitudinal fold of skin that runs around its belly. In African lions, this is absent.

The only National Park where we can find Asiatic Lion in the wild is in the Gir National Park which is in the Northern part of Gujarat state. If you wish to see the maximum Big Cats of India then I would recommend you to do the Big Cats of India tour.


Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus)

On the Asian continent, the Asian elephant is the largest terrestrial mammal. It can weigh up to 6 tons. Asian elephants favour forage plants, they have adapted to live on a variety of resources depending on their location. Asian elephants are particularly social animals, establishing groups of six, seven to hundreds in Kabini backwater of Bandipur National Park, during the summer related females commanded by the matriarch, the oldest female. Adult females and calves live in groups, whereas adult males leave their mothers when they reach adulthood. Bull elephants are either solitary or form “bachelor groups” for a short period of time.


asiatic elephant in jim corbett india


The best National Park to see Asiatic Elephant in India are the Corbett National Park in Uttarkhand near New Delhi, Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam in Eastern India, Periyar National Park in Kerala, Nagarhole National Park and Bandipur National Park in Karnataka in South India.

Corbett has always been fascinated doing safaris because of the diversity in Wildlife. Staying at the Forest Rest House inside the National Park looking at Elephants right in front at the bank of Ramganga river. On the Foot Steps of Jim Corbett tour is one of the best tours to see the Asiatic Elephant in India.


Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

A male Snow Leopard weighs around 50 kg and has a body colour ranging from pale to grey with black markings on its head and neck, large rosettes on its back, flanges, and a bushy tail. Their lengthy hair all around their body and on their feet act as natural snowshoes, and their bushy tail acts as a blanket for them while resting in such chilly temperatures. A Snow Leopard can leap up to 50 feet with a body length of 100 to 150 cm, a tail length of 80 to 105 cm, and enormous strength in its hind legs. Snow Leopards are solitary animals, they live their life alone, however, females will live with their cubs for 18-22 months. After which the cubs leave the mother to start their adulthood life.


snow leopard in india


There are very few places where you can spot the Ghost in the wild in India. Two places in India where the Snow Leopard expedition happens every year and most of the travellers come back with a happy face after witnessing the Ghost cat. The two places are Hemis High Altitude National park in Jammu and Kashmir, for which Leh is the closest airport and another place is called Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh. On this tour, you will have to drive from the foothills of the Himalayas to the altitude up to 5000 ft through the gigantic mountains in three days from Shimla.

If you are looking forward to seeing a Snow Leopard and there are two options which I can suggest to you right now, Snow Leopard Trip to Kibber and Snow Leopard Trip to Leh.


One-Horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)

The Indian Rhinoceros, also known as the One Horned Rhinoceros, is the second-largest Rhinoceros species in the world, with the White Rhinoceros from Africa being the largest. The Indian Rhino has thick dark grey folded skin that is reddish in colour on the inside, giving it the appearance of an ancient animal. It has very little hair, with hairs in the eyelashes, ear fringes, and a tuft of hair at the tail’s tip. Wart-like bumps cover the top half of the thighs, shoulders, and back. After the Asiatic Elephant, the One-Horned Rhinoceros is the second biggest terrestrial mammal native to India. A male can weigh around 2200 kg (4850 lb) on average, whereas a female can weigh around 1600 kg on average (3530 lb).


one horned/indian rhino


The best National Park in India to see One-horned Rhinoceros is Kaziranga National park. One of our Tiger and Rhino tours is the best tour to see the mammals like Tigers, Asiatic Elephant, Asiatic Water buffalo, One-horned Rhinoceros and many more. Apart from Kaziranga other National parks where we do have the chances of seeing One-horned Rhinoceros are Manas National Park, Jaldapara National park in eastern India and Dudhwa National park in the Northern part of Uttar Pradesh state.


Dhole (Cuon alpinus)

All wildlife enthusiasts have always been fascinated by charismatic carnivores such as tigers and leopards, but the vast list of fauna has many more gems. One of these is the endangered Dhole, also known by other names Asiatic Wild Dog, Whistling Hunters and the Red Dog.

Wild canines have been roaming the earth for more than 12,000 years, which means they’ve been there since the Pleistocene epoch, often known as the Last Ice Age. Wild dogs are found in deciduous, evergreen, and alpine steppes and are highly adaptive to their surroundings. With only about 3000 adults alive in the wild, India has the most Dholes, which are found throughout three major landscapes: The Western Ghats, Central India, and Northeast India.


indian wild dog dhole


Though wild dogs are found throughout the Indian subcontinent, there are a few areas in Central Indian National parks where you can have the highest chance of seeing one, including Pench National Park, Satpura National Park, and Tadoba National Park. Some of the best sightings in Southern India can be found in the Karnataka State’s Bandipur National park and Nagarhole National Park.


Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus)

Sloth bears are nocturnal and solitary animals. They can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 140 kg for males and 95 kg for females. When they are threatened, they stand on their hind legs and show off their powerful foreclaws. Their chest is typically characterised with a whitish “V” or “Y” shape mark, and they wear a shaggy black coat with a cream-coloured snout.

Sloth bears eat a variety of foods, they are omnivores. Termites and ants are their primary sources of nutrition. Fruit, honey, and plant stuff are also used to enhance their diets. While raiding termite nests or beehives, sloth bears’ noses can close entirely, shielding the animals from dust and insects. Sloth bears are most active at night. Their sense of smell is acute, but their vision and hearing is poor. Although these bears are not violent in general, their weak eyesight and hearing allow humans to approach them, and if they feel threatened, they will defend themselves and sometimes does attack Human in India.


sloth bear wildlife tour india


Though sloth bears are found throughout India, the greatest areas to see them are in South Indian national parks, in the Western Ghats and Central India’s dry forest cover. For the greatest views, visit the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary in Karnataka, as well as other national parks such as Bandipur National Park, Nagarhole National Park, Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT), Anshi National Park, Kudremukh National park and Madumalai Tiger Reserve Park.

They live alongside big cats in their natural environment in Central India, including national parks like Tadoba National park, Satpura National Park, Kanha National park, Bandhavgarh National Park, and Panna National Park.


Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca Silenus)

Lion-tailed macaques vary in length from 40 to 61 cm, with the tail adding another 24 to 38 cm. Males weigh between 7 to 10 kilogrammes, while females weigh just 3 to 6 kilogrammes. Black fur covers the entire body. With a tuft of black puffy hair at the tip like of a Lion, the tail is long, slender, and bare. A greyish lion-like mane of fur covers the face of both males and females. The face is completely bare and dark.

According to a recent IUCN assessment, 3000–3500 of these primates live spread across Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. The lion-tailed macaque is one of the world’s rarest and most endangered primates.

Some of the National Parks where you can find this beautiful mammal are Silent Valley National Park, Parambikulam National Park, Periyar National Park in Kerala, Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve, Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu and Sharavati Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka.


Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)

One of the cutest mammals in the Indian Jungle, with a bear-like body and thick russet fur, the Red Panda is slightly larger than a domestic cat weigh around 3-6 kg. The belly and limbs are black, while the side of the head and above its little eyes have white patterns. Red pandas are acrobatic and skilled animals that prefer to live in trees. The Eastern Himalayas are home to about half of the red panda’s habitat. Their long, bushy tails are used for balance and, in the winter, to cover themselves, presumably for warmth.

Red Pandas feeds predominantly on plants. Like their cousin Great Panda, they also feed on the bamboo leaves. The name Panda is said to be derived from the Nepali word “Ponya” which means bamboo or plant-eating animal.

The red Panda area has not been explored well, right now the best National Park to see the Red Panda is Singalila Nationa Park and Neoravalley National Park in West Bengal state. And the other National Park where we can find Red Pandas is Kanchenjunga National Park in Sikkim, Nokrek National Park, Balpakram National Park in Meghalaya and Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh. Right now the number of travellers going towards Singalila National Park is high as the sightings have increased over time. Red Panda, Rhino and Elephants tour will give the best chances of spotting this one or more.


Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

The leopard is a nocturnal, solitary animal that hunts on the ground as well as in the trees. They are excellent climbers and spend the majority of their days sleeping in the shade of tree branches or behind a sheltering rock. Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is one out of 09 different sub-species of Common Leopard in the planes.

Indian Leopards mostly drag their kills up trees where they coexist with rival predators such as Bengal Tigers, Striped Hyenas, and Dhole. They are opportunistic hunters with huge heads and powerful jaw muscles, adapted for strength and speed, and designed to kill medium-sized herbivores. The Indian Leopard’s diet consists primarily of Chital, Sambar, and Langur species, but they are also known to prey on Nilgai (Blue Bull), Wild Pig, Cow, Hare, Dog, and Porcupine.


leopard and wildlife safari in tadoba


Some of the well-known places and National parks in India where you can see these animals in the wild are Jawai Leopard Reserve and Jhalana in Rajasthan, These are the places where Leopards are the top predator. Some other National Parks where along with other predators it has co-existed are, Panna National Park, Pench National Park, Satpura National Park and Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh. Bandipur and Nagarhole in Karnataka state are also known for their beautiful Leopard sightings along with the presence of a melanistic leopard, or a Black Panther.

Tiger, Lions and Leopards tour is one of the best tours in India to see Leopards, Lions and the Tigers in a single trip.

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