10 Endangered Animals In The Dudhwa National Park
Imagining a future without some of the most magnificent wildlife creatures who inhabit the earth is a sore spot, not just for humans but also for Mother Nature. While we leave you pondering on that thought, Sumit Roy brings you 10 Rare and Endangered Species found in the Dudhwa National Park that you should see before they’re gone.
Words By Sumit Roy
Watching wild animals roam about freely in their natural habitat, overhearing their calls and wondering where it came from, has always aroused a sense of curiosity about their lifestyle. A home can be called home, only when it guarantees you comfort and safety, and the Dudhwa National Park does exactly that for these wild creatures. Not only does it provide a perfect ecosystem for all the creatures thriving in its vicinity but also leaves them with a sense of safety.
So here’s a list of 10 rare and endangered animals that you can spot in the Dudhwa National Park, if you’re lucky!
1. Red Crowned Roofed Turtle
The Red Crowned Roofed Turtle is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List. Such is the threat to their existence that as of 2011, there are only 400 female breeding turtles left. Female turtles can grow shells as long as 56 cm and can weigh up to 25 kg. Males, on the other hand, are smaller in size.
The Red Crowned Roofed Turtles are freshwater turtles that were once found abundantly in North-eastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Today, they are the most threatened freshwater turtles in India. Such a massive decline in their population is linked to hunting for turtle meat, shells and eggs. Visit the the Dudhwa National Park and spot Red Crowned Roofed Turtles blissfully lazing under the sun.
Once inhabiting all the major river systems of India, Gharials, are now listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with their population being reduced to just 200. They mostly devour fish, sometimes eating turtles and other small animals. They are one of the longest of crocodile species, and you’d be lucky if you get the chance to watch them hunt with their 110 sharp-piercing teeth. Ready for it?
The Dudhwa National Park is the best place to spot Hog-deer in India. The Hog-deer gets its name from their hog-like movements – while running a Hog-deer will keep their heads low so they can easily pass under obstacles instead of jumping over them like most other deer. They have relatively short legs and a stout build, with males measuring 70 cm and weighing 50 kg, and females measuring 61 cm and weighing 32 kg, approximately. Mature males grow antlers measuring about 60 cm with three tines.
With ochre-brown coats, male Hog-deer are usually darker than their female counterparts who have reddish-brown coats in summer; this colour fades during the winter. Hog-deer prefer to stay in the Savannahs by the river banks, and are mostly active in the morning and late afternoons. One interesting fact about Hog-deer is that when threatened by a predator, they tend to scatter and run in different directions instead of running in a herd in just one direction. The IUCN Red List identifies the Hog-deer as endangered.
Tigers have always attracted masses and while they still continue to do so. However, the whims and fancies of the kings and hunters who found joy in hunting them down has dwindled their numbers. Such was their plight that they were pushed to the verge of extinction, unless a ‘Good Samaritan’ came forward to their rescue. We’re referring to Billy Arjan Singh – the man responsible for reintroducing these big cats into the wilderness of the Dudhwa forests. When Tara, the tigress Billy Arjan Singh brought in from London’s Twycross Zoo, was released into the forests, the Dudhwa National Park was formed. Although much has been done, there remains more to be done as the IUCN Red List still classifies Tigers as endangered.
Established in 1987, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary were brought under the purview of Project Tiger; since then, the tiger population has been on the rise. So what are you waiting for? Get your bags ready and set out on a day-long safari to spot these big cats roam freely in the wilderness, while you are awed by their royal movements.
5. Gangetic Dolphins
What would a perfect #UnHoliday at the Dudhwa National Park feel like? Let us tell you… It would include a jungle safari, traversing through the swamplands, riding on the backs of jumbos and a boat ride. Yes, you read that right! Dudhwa National Park allows tourists to ride boats and witness its marine treasures. And by treasure we are referring to the Gangetic Dolphins.
Classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, these Gangetic Dolphins can easily be spotted while on a cruise on the River Sharda at the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary near Dudhwa National Park. These Gangetic Dolphins feeds on shrimp and fish, and are a delight to watch when they jump out of the water to give you the picture-perfect moment.
6. Hispid Hares
Sighting a Hispid Hare is a rare opportune. Why? Because Hispid Hares reside in tall grasslands, are mostly active at dawn and dusk, and can grow on an average up to just 18.7 inches. It is because of this elusive, secretive and shy nature that they prefer not to leave their habitats.
Once found in large numbers in northeastern India, and across the Terai region in India and Nepal, these tiny mammals have been on the IUCN Red List of endangered animals since 1986. They are now forced to stay in protected sanctuaries due to increased incidents of hunting and the destruction of their habitats.
Did you know: Hispid Hares went out of sight in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park in 1984, only to be rediscovered in 2016? Back then, some conservationists thought that these hares had become extinct in the park’s vicinity.
Just as the name suggests, Bara in Hindi translates to twelve whereas singha translates to tines, hence the name Barasingha or twelve-antlered deer. A fully grown Barasingha; however, can have more than 12 tines. They are identified so because of the large antlers and tines that grow only on the heads of the male Barasingha. During the mating season, both male and female Barasingha form a breeding herd of 30-60 deer, wherein males engage in a duel against each other to win over a herd of female deer. After the mating season is over, Barasingha usually spend their time in isolation for the rest of the year.
Barasingha are also known as the Swamp Deer because of its habitat. They once traipsed from the foothills of the Western Himalayas in the north to Eastern Himalayan foothills in the northeast, and in the swamplands between the Ganges and the Godavari River. However, extensive hunting of these deer in the mid-20th century and the destruction of their habitat has threatened their very survival today.
8. One-Horned Rhinoceros
Under the rhinoceros protection programme, five rhinoceros were procured from Assam in 1984 and settled in the Dudhwa National Park. This ambitious programme was expanded further in 1985, when four female rhinoceros were translocated from Nepal in exchange for 16 elephants. From then until now, rhinoceros have gleefully adapted to the terrain and climate of the Dudhwa National Park in the Terai region.
Thanks to poaching and extensive hunting, the majestic beasts that once roamed freely across the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent are now forced to live in captivity. Such inhumane activities pushed one-horned rhinos to the brink of extinction in the beginning of the 20th Century, and the species is now termed vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. If not for the ban on hunting and the government’s rhino protection programme, we would have lost these peace-loving animals to these thoughtless thrill-seeking humans.
Next time when someone asks you, “What can one man do?” Tell them about Billy Arjan Singh – the man majorly responsible for saving big cats such as Tigers and Leopards in India. Yes, it is Billy Arjan Singh once again. Long before he reintroduced Tigers in the forests of Dudhwa, he took on the task of reintroducing Leopards in the wilderness here.
Once found in all the corners of the Indian subcontinent, leopards are now listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, thanks to habitat loss and poaching. Leopards are typically found in deciduous, temperate and rain forests, and the jungles of Terai provide them the perfect ecological balance and climate for their survival.
The Sambar deer is the largest deer found in India, with a fully grown male attaining a height of 150 cm at the shoulder and weighing as much as 546 kg. Easily identifiable by its large and broad ears, male deer have a brown coat with yellowish and greyish hues, while their female counterparts are paler and smaller in size. A thick mane forms around the neck and throat of an adult male Sambar, with antlers that can typically grow up to 110 cm. The antlers are further divided into three tines, which brings the total number of tines in a Sambar to six. Their antlers are very valuable and are in high demand for use as knife handles and as gun grips.
These deer are typically found in and around cultivated lands and tropical rainforests and their diet includes different types of leaves, grass and fruits. Sambar deer are easily spotted near river banks at dusk and dawn, and they have proven to be excellent swimmers. They are identified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
There’s a lot that can to be done to save these creatures in the wild? Know what you can do? Mull over your options while you #UnHoliday at Jaagir Lodge in the Dudhwa National Park. Not only will you learn more about these animals, being in the wild will also inspire you to do your bit to help.
Make this unique experience your own with inspired jungle living at TUTC Dudhwa! Would you like to know more about Dudhwa? Here’s a peek:
Learn more about the wildlife of Dudhwa National Park in this interesting read:
To know more about our #UnHoliday experience at Dudhwa, take a look at this video blog:
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About The Author
Sumit Roy is an Editor, Writer, Researcher, Translator and Proofreader at Aatman Innvoations Pvt. Ltd. When not working, he likes to read, write, watch movies or series, play computer games or even better – procrastinate. He believes in free basic education for all and thinks that capitalism first and socialism next can change this world for better.