THE MAJESTIC ASIATIC LION
The Asiatic Lions rule Gujarat’s Gir National Park. On the verge of extinction in the early 21st century due to indiscriminate hunting, they found their only existing refuge in the 1,412.1 sq km of Protected Area here. You can
hire open jeeps for the jungle trail. Spotting one of the 500-plus lions here is likely — look out for them basking
in the sun near water bodies. And stay calm. They won’t attack unless they’re hungry.
When to visit: The sanctuary is open from October 16 to June 15 every year.
Elephants love lush bamboo thickets, so look out for them when you are at Nagarhole National Park (now Rajiv Gandhi National Park). You might also spot a herd near the river Kabini, which flows next to the park. Safaris are organised in the forest department vans and jeeps in the 643 sq km area. It’s also a scenic delight with greenery and waterfalls. An important tip: reach the park gates before dusk as elephant attacks are common on the roads after dark.
When to visit: The best time to visit is between September and May. Avoid the monsoon months
NANDA DEVI, UTTARAKHAND
THE ASIATIC BLACK BEAR
Sighting the Asiatic black bear is an effort. Not just because it loves climbing and you will have to keep looking up into trees to sight one, but because reaching the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve is quite a task. You need to trek to reach here. Carry woollens and raincoats as rain and snow accompanied by strong winds are common. Home to the
7,817 m tall Nanda Devi peak, the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve is spread over 6,407.03 sq km (including Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers National Park). Only those above 14 years of age are allowed.
When to visit: Open from June to October
THE RARE ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS
Kaziranga and the rhinoceros have been synonymous for years now. The park itself is a World Heritage Site and holds the honour of being home to two-third of the world’s one-horned rhinoceros population, with over 2,400 rhinos. This park, approximately 430 sq km, located on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, is also a visual delight. Remember, for safety, stick to the guided roads and trails and maintain a safe distance from the animals.
When to visit: It’s open from November 1 to April 30 but March and April are said to be the best months to spot a wild beast.