Top five must-see less explored wildlife destinations in India

Top five must-see less explored wildlife destinations in India
In many countries, nature and wildlife exploration sustains the tourism industry. Many of them are marketing and managing this well compared to India. Not really surprising that Indians are opting to visit other countries like Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, among others, for wildlife exploration, despite there is so much left to explore in India itself. However, if only things were better managed and easily made available for tourists, they would not feel the need to step out.

India is endowed with the most varied geographical and climatic conditions. Different habitats here provide a diverse variety of flora and fauna. Generally people opt to go to few known tiger reserves — or even if they go to other sanctuaries, they usually are unaware of the natural history of the area. Small sanctuaries and wildlife areas of the country are mostly visited because they have a temple or a lake for boating and are good picnic spots. If these were better promoted and operated, it would benefit both wildlife and people.

There are almost 100 national parks and 400 sanctuaries in our country, making it ripe for wildlife tourism. It is, of course, not possible to see all these areas in a short period of time. But if one makes a wish list of five spectacular sights of Indian wildlife and if one achieves to see them in one’s lifetime, one would feel truly blessed.

My personal top five includes the spectacular site of Demoiselle crane congregation at Kheenchan-Jodhpur districts of Rajasthan during winters — where about 30,000 cranes from Mongolia visit for two-three months. Getting there is easy and one can see local people feeding the birds as well. It shows how community sentiments support our wildlife in these areas. The second site is mass nesting by five-six lakh Olive Ridley turtles in Gahirmatha at the Orissa sea shore. Here, these creatures lay eggs in one week’s time, which happens only in India at such a huge level. To see this outstanding site, you have just a week’s window, and without proper planning, it is quite possible that you will miss this spectacular occurance.

The third site is the flock of around 1 million Amur falcons, which look like a swarm of insects, at Wokha district of Nagaland. They take 45 days to fly from north China to Africa. The fourth site is flamingo city where thousands of Greater flamingo nests are located in the mud flats of the Rann, about 10 km from Nir outpost on Kala Dungar hill. Visiting this site is easily manageable and many wildlife enthusiasts frequent there each year.

The fifth site is Sonkhalia, near Ajmer district of Rajasthan where hundreds of endangered lesser florican birds come from unknown destination for breeding. The male birds jump from six-eight feet with a special sound that resembles a frog’s crackle and is a stunning sight to see. These birds use agricultural fields for hiding and laying eggs.

These sites are easily the mindblowing wildlife tourism sites in our country. Their protection is dependent on the local community participation and stringent conservation laws. And, of course, tourists’ money. By promoting them right and making them easily accessible, these hidden gems could be made to shine far and wide in our country.

(The writer is a conservation biologist at Tiger Watch, Ranthambore)

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