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Top 10 Most Elusive Wild Animals Found In India

Top 10 Most Elusive Wild Animals Found In India

India, with its diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity, is home to a remarkable array of wildlife, some of which remain enigmatic and elusive, rarely glimpsed by human eyes. From the dense forests of the Western Ghats to the vast Himalayan ranges, these elusive creatures have adapted to their surroundings, making them masters of stealth and survival. In this exploration, we delve into the mysteries surrounding India’s top ten most elusive wild animals, uncovering the secrets that shroud these remarkable beings in the wilderness.

 

  1. Indian Pangolin

Scientific name: Manis crassicaudata

IUCN Status: Endangered

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight: 9-18 kg

Length: 60-70 cm

The Indian Pangolin, also commonly referred to as the scaly anteater, is a Pangolin species found across the Indian Subcontinent. This unique creature possesses a sticky tongue that is remarkably longer than its own body, enabling it to expertly reach into deep crevices to capture and consume insects. Despite their resemblance to prehistoric dinosaurs, it’s important to note that these intriguing creatures are mammals.

While they are widely distributed in their range, encountering them in the wild is a challenging endeavor. Even individuals who have spent their entire lives in forested areas often never have the opportunity to lay eyes on them. The monitoring of their presence primarily relies on remote cameras or camera traps.

 

Indian Pangolin - Most Poached wild animal in India

 

Conservation Issue:  Indeed, the Indian Pangolin faces a grave threat due to its significant involvement in illegal wildlife trade. Sadly, they are among the most trafficked species, sought after for their scales and body parts in the illegal market. The demand for these scales, which are used in traditional medicine and folk remedies, has led to a drastic decline in their population. Additionally, pangolins are hunted and poached for their meat, further contributing to the pressure on their dwindling numbers. Also read about the King Cobra and its Habitat, Venom, Hunting, and Diet.

 

  1. Honey Badger

Scientific name: Manis crassicaudata

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight: 7-13 Kg

Length: 70 cm

The honey badger, also known as Ratel, is found in peninsular and western India. It has earned a reputation as the toughest and one of the most fearless animals, capable of engaging in combat even with larger predators such as tigers or lions. It feeds on honey bees and venomous snakes, and it appears that it has developed resistance against snake venom. Honey badgers are nocturnal and extremely elusive, making them challenging to spot during daylight hours. Because of their elusive behavior, estimating the population of honey badgers is a complex task. The only reliable method to assess their numbers is by deploying camera traps in their natural habitat.

 

honey badger in the forests of india

 

Conservation Issue: Besides humans and sloth bear, the honey badger stands out as one of the most harmful mammalian predators of honeybees. Conflicts between beekeepers and honey badgers have been documented across their habitat. These creatures often face accidental deaths due to the indiscriminate use of poisons and traps, set up to target other troublesome animals. In regions beyond protected areas, small livestock farmers actively persecute honey badgers. They are killed for traditional medicinal purposes and their pelts are also in demand, leading to a constant threat to their population.

 

  1. Indian Crested Porcupine

Scientific name: Hystrix indica

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule IV

Weight: 11-18 kg

Length: 60-90 cm

The Indian Crested Porcupine stands as the most extensively distributed porcupine species in India. Belonging to the rodent family, they share characteristic features with other rodents. Their presence spans across almost the entire country, not only within protected areas but also in human-altered landscapes. Despite their widespread presence, these creatures are exceptionally elusive during daylight hours.

Their nocturnal habits are well-documented; they primarily feed on tree barks and, in forested regions, are known to consume fallen deer antlers. Indian Crested Porcupines are recognized for creating dens where they spend their daytime hours, adding to the mystery surrounding their behavior.

 

Indian Crested Porcupine in Rajaji National Park in India

 

Conservation Issue: These porcupines are primarily hunted for their meat, which is highly regarded as a delicacy among many tribal communities in India. The succulent meat of the porcupine is relished by these tribes. As a result of urbanization, infrastructure development, and pesticide use, suitable porcupine habitat is currently declining. The Indian crested porcupine is protected under the India Schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, amended up to 2002. Nonetheless, because it is destructive to gardens and agricultural crops, it is widely hunted. It is traded for consumption and medicinal use.

 

  1. Common Palm Civet, an elusive wild cat species found in India

Scientific name: Paradoxurus hermaphroditus

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule II

Weight: 1.5-4.5 kg

Length: 42-71 cm

The Civet Palm is among the most widespread civet species in India, present in almost every region except the extremely arid western areas. These creatures are nocturnal and are recognized for their preference for palm tree fruits, which lend them their name. Despite not being a member of the cat family, they are commonly referred to as Civet Cats or Toddy Cats. Interestingly, they are often discovered residing in the thatched roofs of traditional houses and occasionally seek shelter in dry drains, outhouses, and similar spaces. Their nocturnal nature makes them very elusive and mostly monitored by remote cameras.

 

Common Palm Civet found in the national parks of India

 

Conservation issues: A significant conservation challenge faced by this animal is hunting and persecution, often stemming from misconceptions about their behavior. Additionally, lack of awareness leads people to kill them, further exacerbating the threat to their population.

 

  1. Grey Slender Loris

Scientific name: Loris lydekkerianus

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight: 275 gm

Length: 25 cm

The Slender Loris, a diminutive nocturnal primate, is commonly sighted in the tropical scrub, deciduous forests, and the dense hedgerow plantations that line farmlands in Southern India and Sri Lanka. These creatures exhibit a preference for dense thickets, thorny bushes, and bamboo clusters, providing both refuge from potential predators and a readily available supply of insects, their primary source of sustenance.

A distinctive feature of the Slender Loris is its large, closely set, brown eyes, which are a defining characteristic. These arboreal beings spend the majority of their lives in treetops, moving deliberately, although they can ascend rapidly to the canopy when faced with threats. They forage for food both independently and in pairs. Notably, they display a high degree of social interaction during the transitional periods of dawn and dusk, engaging with fellow members of their species. Being adopted to nocturnal life makes them an elusive animal.

 

Grey Slender Loris on trees of Indian forest

 

Conservation Issue: Slender lorises confront a significant threat from poachers, primarily fueled by the mistaken belief in the magical and medicinal properties attributed to these creatures. This illegal hunting, coupled with the destruction of their natural habitat, poses a severe danger to their survival. Alarmingly, there is a lack of accurate data regarding the exact number of slender lorises remaining in the wild. Consequently, they remain one of the least studied primate species in India, highlighting the urgency for research and conservation efforts to safeguard their existence.

 

  1. Caracal, another elusive wild cat species found in India

Scientific name: Caracal caracal

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight:

Length:

The Caracal, one of India’s most elusive feline species, primarily inhabits the dry arid regions of western and central India. In the country, they are critically endangered, almost on the verge of extinction. This medium-sized cat is characterized by its long legs, formidable canine teeth, and robust physique. Sporting a golden or sandy coat and distinctive large black ears, the caracal is exceptionally quick-footed.

Spotting these creatures in the wild is an exceedingly rare occurrence, often left to chance. Even in places like Ranthambore tiger reserve, considered one of the best spots to encounter them, sightings are scarce. For instance, a conservation biologist working in Ranthambore for two decades reported encountering them merely five times, underscoring their elusive nature and the challenges in conserving this magnificent species in India.

 

caracal and cubs found in india

 

Conservation Issue: Approximately 50 caracals remain in small clusters scattered across the states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, marking the caracal as the second cat species in India, after the Asiatic cheetah, to verge on the brink of extinction. Habitat loss stands as the primary factor contributing to their population decline, although other factors leading to this precarious situation are yet to be identified. The dwindling numbers of these magnificent creatures underscore the urgent need for comprehensive conservation efforts to protect their habitats and address the unknown threats that further imperil their survival in the wild. Read our blog post on other small cat species found in India.

 

  1. Sun Bear, the most elusive bear species found in India

Scientific name: Helarctos malayanus

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight:

Length:

The Sun Bear, often referred to as the “honey bear,” holds the distinction of being the smallest and one of the rarest bear species in India and Southeast Asia. Despite its adorable size, this species remains remarkably understudied, making it a mysterious creature in the region’s wildlife. Sun Bears are renowned for their affection for honey, a trait that has earned them their delightful nickname.

These bears, characterized by their distinctive orange-yellow crescent-shaped chest marking, are not only elusive but also vital to the biodiversity of the forests they inhabit. Their unique behaviors and habitats continue to intrigue scientists and wildlife enthusiasts, sparking an interest in understanding and conserving these remarkable creatures.

 

sun bear found in kanha national park in india

 

Conservation Issue: Indeed, habitat destruction poses a significant challenge to the conservation of Sun Bears. The relentless deforestation, driven by agricultural expansion, logging, and human settlements, is rapidly shrinking the natural habitats of these bears. As their forest homes are destroyed or fragmented, Sun Bears face the loss of crucial food sources and safe shelter.

This habitat destruction not only threatens the survival of the Sun Bear species but also disrupts the delicate balance of the ecosystems they inhabit. Conservation efforts focusing on preserving and restoring their natural habitats are essential to ensuring the long-term survival of these unique and vulnerable creatures.

 

  1. Indian Chevrotains (Mouse Deer)

Scientific name: Moschiola indica

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight: 2-4 kg

Length: 55-59 cm

The Indian Chevrotain, recognized as the smallest deer species, holds the distinction of being one of India’s most elusive ungulates. Endemic to the country, they are distributed across the Peninsular and certain parts of northern India. Their preferred habitat is the dense tropical forests, particularly in Southern India. The Indian Chevrotain’s elusiveness can be attributed to its diminutive size and solitary lifestyle, making it a challenge to spot even for experienced wildlife enthusiasts.

 

Indian spotted chevrotain - mouse deer in india

 

Conservation issues: Habitat destruction and hunting for bushmeat are major issues for its conservation. Local communities frequently hunt them in their distributional range. They use hunting dogs to flush them out. The hunting team beat the bushes and women and children standing there carrying nets catch them.

 

  1. Clouded Leopard, an elusive leopard species of India

Scientific name: Neofelis nebulosa

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight: 11-23 kg

Length: Male 68.5 -106.5 cm, Females are smaller

The clouded leopard, India’s most elusive large feline species, finds its home within the dense forests of Northeast India, shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Spotting these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an exceptionally challenging endeavor, given their secretive nature and the dense foliage they inhabit. Despite being the smallest among all leopard species, they possess a remarkable and captivating appearance. Their warm ochre fur is embellished with grey elliptical clouds, outlined in bold black strokes, creating a mesmerizing pattern.

This intricate design not only adds to their beauty but also serves as a perfect camouflage, allowing them to blend seamlessly into their lush surroundings. The clouded leopard’s elusive presence adds an aura of enigma to India’s rich wildlife tapestry. Read more about the 4 different types of leopard species found in India.

 

Clouded leopard india

 

Conservation issues: Habitat destruction and illegal hunting are indeed significant threats faced by many wild cat species, including the clouded leopard. These beautiful and elusive cats are highly affected by deforestation, which is often driven by the conversion of forests into agricultural lands, logging, and infrastructure development. As their natural habitats shrink, clouded leopards face increased competition for resources, reduced prey availability, and fragmented territories, making it challenging for them to thrive and reproduce.

Additionally, illegal hunting and poaching further exacerbate the conservation challenges faced by clouded leopards. They are targeted for their skins, bones, and other body parts, which are unfortunately sought after in illegal wildlife trade markets.

 

  1. Asian Golden Cat, another elusive wild cat species found in India

Scientific Name: Catopuma temminckii

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Indian Wildlife Protection Act: Schedule I

Weight: 12-15.7 kg

Length: 66-105 cm.

The Asiatic wildcat, a creature of astonishing variety, adorns itself in a palette of hues ranging from vibrant golden and dark brown to soft tones of pale cinnamon and fiery red, occasionally even donning subtle shades of grey. Their fur, though often consistently colored, sometimes bears the enchanting marks of spots and stripes, reminiscent of the majestic leopard’s pattern. This elusive feline, primarily a nocturnal hunter, roams the grounds under the cover of night. While its natural preference is hunting on the ground, the Asiatic wildcat displays remarkable climbing abilities when the situation demands, showcasing its adaptability and agility in the wild.

 

Asiatic Golden Cat

 

Conservation Issues: The Asian golden cat like many other wild cat species, is facing significant threats due to habitat destruction and illegal hunting. Deforestation, primarily driven by logging, agriculture, and human settlement expansion, has led to the loss and fragmentation of their natural habitats. This loss of habitat reduces the available resources for these cats, making it harder for them to find food and establish territories.

Additionally, illegal hunting and poaching pose a significant threat to the Asian golden cat population. They are often targeted for their fur, bones, and other body parts, which are unfortunately in demand in some black markets. Hunting also disrupts the natural balance of their populations and can lead to a decline in their numbers.

 

Conclusion:

In the heart of India’s wilderness lies a world of enigma and wonder, inhabited by creatures that thrive in the shadows, away from the human gaze. The journey into the realm of India’s top five most elusive wild animals illuminates the challenges faced by wildlife enthusiasts and researchers alike in their quest to understand and conserve these mysterious beings.

While their elusiveness adds to their allure, it also underscores the importance of preserving their habitats and ensuring their safety from various threats. As we marvel at their existence, let us also embrace the responsibility of safeguarding these remarkable species, allowing them to continue enchanting future generations with their hidden presence in India’s wild spaces.

 

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Elusive Wild Animals Found In India”

    1. Thank You Sapra for your kind words. Keep visiting our website for more interesting content on Indian wildlife.
      Feel free to leave your views on other blogs as well.
      Thanks

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