India’s Big 7: Know Where to Spot These Big Cats in India

India’s Big 7: Know Where to Spot These Big Cats in India

India’s Big 7: Know Where to Spot These Big Cats in India

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Fauna enthusiast? We have you covered. Here is where you should go to find these big cats in India. 

8th June 2024

By Khushi Maheshwari 

India is home to a plethora of biodiversity, some would argue that the feline family is one of the most majestic species to exist, here are the big 7 of India with their respective habitats:

  1. The Bengal Tiger: The Bengal tiger, largest of its kind, roams India’s forests, symbolising the nation’s wildlife richness. Males can reach 260 kg, spanning 3.1 metres. Their distinct orange fur with black stripes aids camouflage. Primarily carnivorous, they prey on deer, boar and buffalo. Solitary and nocturnal, they hunt using heightened senses. Despite adaptation skills, they face endangerment due to habitat loss and poaching. Conservation efforts strive to protect them. Best spots to view them include Jim Corbett, Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh and Kanha National Parks, where responsible tourism aids preservation. Encountering these majestic creatures demands patience and respect for their natural habitat.
  1. Cheetah: Cheetah, renowned for its speed, is the fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds up to 112 km/h in short bursts. Though once found across Asia and Africa, today, the Asiatic cheetah is critically endangered, with Iran being its last stronghold. India, formerly home to cheetahs, aimed to reintroduce them in suitable habitats like the Kuno-Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh. These incredible cats possess slender bodies, distinctive black “tear” marks and specialised anatomy for high-speed pursuits. Their dwindling numbers highlight the urgent need for conservation efforts to ensure the survival of this iconic species in the wild.
  1.  Caracal: Caracal, a sleek and agile feline, is known for its remarkable jumping ability, capable of leaping up to 3 metres in the air to catch birds in flight. Native to Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, caracals historically roamed parts of India. However, sightings are rare due to habitat loss and fragmentation. In India, they are occasionally spotted in the western and central regions, including Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. These elusive cats boast distinctive tufted ears and are skilled hunters, preying on small mammals and birds. Conservation efforts are crucial to safeguard their remaining populations and habitats.
  1. Snow Leopard: Snow leopards, masters of high altitudes, roam the rugged mountains of Central and South Asia, including India’s northern regions like Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Adapted to extreme cold, they inhabit alpine and subalpine zones, blending seamlessly into the rocky terrain with their thick fur and spotted coat. As elusive predators, they primarily hunt wild sheep, goats and small mammals. Known for their elusive nature, they’re expert climbers, capable of navigating steep cliffs with grace. Threatened by poaching and habitat loss, conservation efforts in protected areas like Hemis National Park in Ladakh are crucial for safeguarding these majestic cats.
  1. Asiatic lion: The Asiatic lion, a symbol of strength and royalty, once roamed across Asia but now exists only in the Gir Forest National Park and surrounding areas of Gujarat, India. With a smaller population compared to their African counterparts, they’re distinguishable by their smaller mane and genetic differences. These social cats form prides, comprising related females and cubs, and are skilled hunters of deer and buffalo. Despite conservation efforts, including relocation to other habitats, their numbers remain fragile. Safeguarding their last stronghold in Gir is essential for ensuring the survival of this critically endangered subspecies.
  1. Clouded Leopard: The clouded leopard, a mesmerising and elusive cat species, inhabits the dense tropical forests of Southeast Asia, including parts of India’s northeastern states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. Renowned for its unique cloud-like markings on its fur, it is one of the best climbers among big cats, often resting on tree branches. With its exceptionally long canine teeth, it preys on a variety of animals, including monkeys, deer and birds. Unfortunately, habitat loss and poaching pose significant threats to its survival. Conservation efforts in protected areas like Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh aim to preserve this enchanting species.
  1. Indian Leopard: Indian leopards, a subspecies of the common leopard, are highly adaptable and found across various habitats, including forests, grasslands and even urban areas, throughout India. Renowned for their elusive nature and stealthy hunting skills, they prey on a diverse range of animals, from small rodents to larger ungulates. Their golden-yellow coat adorned with distinctive rosettes provides effective camouflage. While they face threats such as habitat loss, poaching and human-wildlife conflict, they persist in protected areas like Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka and Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand, offering opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts to spot them.