Big Cats in India
India offers some of the best ‘big ticket’ wildlife viewing in Asia, and is arguably the best destination for big cats outside of Africa.
Tigers, synonymous with India, are by far the most common ‘panthera’ on the Subcontinent, and as such spotting a tiger has become a ‘must-do’ experience - on par with sipping chai or taking in the Taj Mahal! Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan is the most accessible place for this, easily worked into a first-timers’ itinerary, while the more dedicated wildlife viewer might prefer the dramatic scenery and pure wildlife focus of India’s central parks in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The second most commonly found cat in India is the leopard: often seen (in addition to tigers) up in Uttarakhand at Corbett National Park, on the Karnataka-Kerala border at Kabini, or perhaps folded into a round-Rajasthan tour passing through the starkly beautiful Jawai district.
Snow leopard and clouded leopard – both famed for their elusiveness – are occasionally spotted in the low Himalaya; the former are mostly found in the western hills around Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh, while the latter are orientated to the east around Assam and Sikkim.
The last remaining population of Asiatic lions meanwhile is found in Gujarat’s Sasan Gir – the only location in the entire continent of Asia in which wild lions can still be found.