Chances are, you have heard of Africa’s “Big Five,” a list of five iconic animals that travelers hope to spot while on safari. Though India does not come to mind for most people as a top wildlife destination, it has its own Big Five:

Tiger

Once in grave danger of extinction, India’s wild tiger population has begun to rebound due to public environmental education, better policing of national parks, and an increase in tourist dollars. If you are lucky, tigers can be spotted in national parks across the country, though sighting is dependent on season and good, old-fashioned luck.

Asiatic Lion

The Asiatic lion (a subspecies distinct from the African lion) can be found in only one Indian state, Gujarat. The population is estimated at just over 500 individuals in the wild, making this a rare and exciting sighting.

Indian Leopard

Though this species is widespread throughout India, they are so elusive and shy that they can be difficult to spot. Leopards can be seen with luck in national parks throughout the country, especially where night safaris are possible.

Greater One-horned Rhino

According to the WWF, Indian rhino populations have rebounded from about 600 in 1975 to over 3,500 today. This species can only be found along a swath of northern India, and is the second-largest rhinoceros living today.

Indian Elephant

Though very common in captivity, the Indian elephant is both difficult and rewarding to spot in the wild. Listed as endangered by the IUCN, they are present in highly localized and fragmented areas.  Seeing an elephant within a dense forest is an experience of a lifetime!

All five species listed above are threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and environmental degradation. Seeing such large mammals in such a crowded and busy country is quite an experience! If you are interested in seeing wildlife in India, contact us for more information.

A leopard sighted from afar at dusk in Bera, India