Leopard Safari and Tiger Safari in India
India is home to around 410 different species of mammals. Among 410, the apex predator, one on top of the food chain Tigers are the highlight of the Indian National Parks. The topmost predator in India is Tiger, Common Leopard, Lions in Gir National Park, Wild Dog, and Snow Leopard.
Tiger and Leopard are the ones which we all seek to look for when we are on Safari. Tiger Safari in India is one of the most popular game drives. We don’t get to see only Tigers, leopards are also the resident of the same habitat.
Leopard and Tiger have co-existed for millions of years sharing the same habitat. Leopard being a smaller cat weighs around 60 – 80 Kg and Tiger, on the other hand, weighs around 200 kg. Leopards are no match in front of Tiger. One of the key characteristics of a Leopard in survival is they are agile and can climb up the tree.
Around 70 percent of the total population of Tiger in the world is in India. As per the 2018 census, the Royal Bengal Tiger population in India is 2967. The two states of India namely Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have the highest number of Tigers, with 526 and 524 respectively.
Leopards on the other hand are very adaptive in different habitats. The estimated population of Leopards is 12000 to 13000 in the entire country of India.
Best National Parks for Tiger Safari in India
Tiger Safari in Corbett National Park
Corbett, which lies in the foothills of western Himalayas, in the state of Uttarakhand, is one of the most scenic Tiger reserves in India. Along with Tigers, Leopards, and elephants, there is a total of 50 different species of mammal species. Corbett National Park is a paradise for bird watchers as well. The advantage of doing Tiger Safari in Corbett National Park:
- You get to see wild Asian Elephants
- Over 525 species of birds
- Crocodiles and Gharials in the river through this forest.
- You get an opportunity to stay inside the national park in a 100-year-old Forest Rest House preferably Dhikala Forest Rest House. Though these rest houses are very basic, only vegetarian food, no smoking, and no liquor, the location is right in the heart of the Jungle. They are on the banks of a river, overlooking the foothills of The Great Himalayas. There is no air-conditioning.
Along with Corbett National Park, you can visit another National Park Dudhwa, around 250 km (155 miles) 5 – 6 hour drive or Nainital a paradise for birders around 65 km (40 miles), 1 – 2 hours’ drive.
How to Reach:
Air: Delhi is the nearest Airport to the Corbett National Park, 220 km (137 miles).
Train: Ramnagar is the closest railway station to the Corbett National Park.
Bus: Ramnagar is well connected by Bus from New Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, and other cities.
Tiger Safari in Bandhavgarh National Park
Bandhavgarh is situated in the Deccan Plateau region of Central India. Bandhavgarh has the highest density of Tigers. It is reported that the 105 sq. km (40.5 sq. miles) area open to tourists has 22 Tigers, a density of one tiger per 4.7 sq. Km (1.8 sq. miles). This was the hunting reserve of the local Maharajas before Independence. The demolished forts still tell the story of history and now are the kingdoms of around 60 different Tigers and Tigress.
Along with Tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park is home to 38 different species of mammals and around 250 species of birds. Leopards and sloth Bears are the two other attractions of the park. Now around 48 Asiatic wild elephants have migrated from Orissa through Chhattisgarh. These elephants had made Bandhavgarh their home adding one more attraction to the Wildlife enthusiasts.
Along with Bandhavgarh, you can add Kanha and Pench National Park, which increases the chances of seeing more Tigers and the diversity in India Wildlife. Just Tigers Tour is one of the best Tiger Safari tours in India.
How to Reach:
Air: Jabalpur is the closest airport to Bandhavgarh National Park.
Train: Umaria is the closest railway station 35 km (22 miles), and Katni 100 km (62 miles) distance.
Bus: Buses are available from Jabalpur, Umaria and Katni.
Tiger Safari in Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambore is surrounded by Vidhyas hill range from the south-east and Aravalis hills from the North-eastern part of the National Park, situated in the state of Rajasthan. Several lakes inside the National Park like Padam Talao, Raj Bagh Talab, and Malik Talab have made this park one of the most beautiful parks in India. As per the last census of 2018, the total number of Tigers including cubs in Ranthambore National Park is 71, out of which 52 were adults within their territory.
The Hilly, dry deciduous forest of Ranthambore National park is home to more than 40 different species of mammals. Sloth Bear, Leopard, Caracal, Jackal, Fox, Hyena, and Mongoose are some of the carnivore species of mammals. There are plenty of herbivores for the survival of these predators, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Blue Bull, Rhesus Macaque, Languor, and many more. Sometimes the Marsh mugger has also been a prayer for the Tiger.
Some of the other wildlife destinations closer to Ranthambore National Park are Sariska Tiger Reserve and the Bera leopard Sanctuary for a Leopard Safari.” Tiger Taj and Leopard Safari Tour” is one of the well-planned safari tours for Tiger and Leopard Safari in India.
How to reach:
Air: Jaipur international airport is 180 km (112 miles) from Ranthambore National Park is the closest airport and New Delhi is 380 km (236 miles).
Train: Sawai Madhopur is the nearest railway station, 13 km (08 miles) from the Ranthambore National park.
Bus: There are luxury buses connected with Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, and other cities.
Best National Parks for Leopard Safari in India
In every Park in India where a Tiger can survive, a leopard would survive more easily. A Leopard being a smaller predator would need less food. Though if the Tiger population is more in a certain area then the Leopard would be more submissive or elusive, to avoid conflict with a Tiger. There are some National Park in India where the chances of seeing both cats are the same.
Leopard Safari in Kabini & Nagarhole
Kabini and Nagarhole National Park of Karnataka. The famous black panther of India, the picture of which we see quite frequently on social media is from Kabini. A bold male leopard, Bagheera of the famous ‘The Jungle Book’ by Kipling. Because of the plenty of prey base in this park with the dense vegetation of the Western Ghats. The Predators have become very successful in bringing their generation up.
Along with top predators, the numbers of some of the biggest land mammals in India are also good. There are huge herds of Asiatic Elephant more than 100s sometime in the Kabini backwater in March and April. Similarly, the largest wild cattle in the world known as the Indian Gaur, also roam around the forest floor of these forests in big herds.
How to reach
Air: Mysore is the closest airport 61 km (38 miles); the flight is not connected well. Bangalore 205 km (127 miles) is the second nearest airport to Kabini.
Train: Mysuru Junction is the closest railway station to Kabini.
Bus: There are several luxury buses from Bangalore, Mysore, Coimbatore, and other cities.
Leopard Safari in Panna
Panna National Park lies in the Deccan Plateau region of central India and is known for its Tiger and Leopard safari in India. In 2008 shockingly the Tiger count in Panna was zero. It is reintroduced to the park. However, the absence of the top predators has given rise to the Leopards the second top predator as the king of the jungle. The Leopards are bold and have got quite used to vehicles.
Along with seeing the top two predators, some of the rare species of animals we would find here. Hyenas, Indian Gazelle, Blue bull, Sloth Bear, Pangolin, and many more. Ken river, the cleanest river in India flowing through the parks has given life to tremendous birdlife in winter during migration, along with some of the residents like Flap shell turtles, and Marsh Mugger.
How to reach:
Air: Khajuraho 44 km (27 miles), and Jabalpur 220 km (137 miles) are the two nearest airports to Panna National park.
Train: Khajuraho and Rajnagar are the two nearest railway stations to Panna National Park.
Bus: Panna Bus stand is well connected to Jabalpur, Khajuraho, Umaria, and different cities
Leopard Safari in Bera
Bera lies in the landscape of Aravalli hills, with scrublands vegetation of cactus and Keekar (Gum Arabic Tree). The hillocks and the caves around these places makes a perfect habitat for Leopards.
The estimated population of Leopards in Bera is 50 – 60 individuals. Being a top predator of the area, Leopards of Bera is bold and used to vehicles. For the last few years, Bera has taken the eyes of wildlife enthusiasts. Close to a village a river flows called Jawai and Dam created around, Jawai dam has given plenty of water to the people and the wildlife of Bera.
Some of the other wildlife which you can hope to see are Hyena, Jungle Cat, Sloth Bear, Indian Grey Mongoose, Nilgai (Bluebull) etc and birds like, Osprey, Black shoulder kite, Sarus Crane, Indian Courser, Osprey, Pelicans, Bar- Headed Geese, Waterfowl, pipits, larks, pratincoles and many more.
How to reach:
Air: Udaipur airport is the nearest airport to Bera 83 km (52 miles).
Train: Jawai Bandh is the nearest railway station to Bera.
Bus: Bera Bus stand is well connected to other cities like Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur and many more.
Leopard Safari in Gir National Park
The only national park in India where we can find more than 900 big cats all together with leopards and Lions. Gir National Park is one of the well-known parks in India located in southwestern Gujarat. The only species of Asiatic Lion in the wild are found in Gir National Park.
As per the 2020 census, there are around 674 individual Lions increase from 523 in 2015 and the estimated population of leopards is around 450 plus an increase from around 300 in 2015 in the region. The seven major rivers of the Gir region, Hari, Shetrunji, Datardi, Shingoda, Machhundri, Godavari, and Raval are the lifeline of the wildlife and the people of the region.
For more than 900 big cats together the prey base needed is also plenty. The Gir National Park has a population of diverse herbivores like Spotted deer (Chital), Sambar, Nilgai (Bluebell), Four Horned antelope (Chowsingha) etc. There are scavengers, carnivores, and other residents of the national park, Striped Hyena, Fox, Jackals, Sloth Bears, Wild Boars, Indian Pangolins etc.
There are around more than 350 species of birds. Some of the key bird species are the Asian Paradise flycatcher, Black Shoulder Kite, Plum Headed Parakeet, Red Headed Ibis, Black Winged Stilt, Yellow Footed Green Pigeon, White Breasted Kingfisher, Purple Sunbird, Oriental Honey Buzzard, and many more.
How to reach:
Air: Kashod airport 86 km (53 miles) is the nearest airport to Gir National Park. Rajkot airport 170 km (106 miles), is the second nearest and most well-connected airport.
Train: Junagadh, 80 km (50 miles), and Veraval 72 km (45 miles) are the two closest railway stations to Gir National park.
Bus: There are several buses going to Sasan Gir (Gir National park) from all close-by cities like Rajkot, Junagadh, Veraval, Ahmedabad, etc.
In most of the Tiger Safari India, there are chances of spotting a Leopard. Some of the parks like Bera and Gir National Park, where Tigers are not there. Tadoba and Pench Tour is one of the well-known tours, which has the maximum chance of seeing big cats. As per the last census, the estimated Leopard population in tadoba region is around 150 individuals.