Rajasthan is a haven for a wide spectrum of wildlife. The topography of Rajasthan ranges from the barren desert, scrub-thorn arid forests, rocks and ravines to wetlands and lush, green forests. And each of these areas houses a large variety of animal and bird life. Some of them rare while some endangered.
Rajasthan is the home of the tigers, black bucks, chinkara, the rare desert fox, the endangered caracal, the great Indian bustard, gavial, monitor lizard, wild boars, porcupine. Migratory birds like the common crane, ducks, coots, pelicans and the rare Siberian cranes, imperial sand grouse, falcons, buzzards flocks to this state during the winter months. Typical areas representing each of the ecosystems have been earmarked as special areas wildlife. Rajasthan boasts of two National Parks, over a dozen Sanctuaries and two Closed Areas. Most of these areas are open to visitors round the year but are closed briefly during the monsoon.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary : The beauty of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is extremely captivating and the brilliant sight of rare birds amidst such paramount greenery, makes this place seem unnatural. This is one of those lucky sanctuaries that has pretty much everything to offer; culture, history, excellent wildlife & of course an amazing array of exotic birds. Two-thirds of the Park lies under water and the remaining one-third is covered in dry deciduous forests and extensive grasslands.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur : Declared a National Park in 1983, this 29 sq km park is one of the world's greatest heronries. Its shallow, fresh water marsh attracts thousands of migratory birds. Over 10,000 nests of egrets, darters, cormorants, grey herons and storks hatch nearly 20,000 to 30,000 chicks every year. There is an infinite variety of migratory birds. Mammals like the sambhar, blackbuck, chital, nilgai, fishing cat, otter and mongoose also roam freely here.
Best time to visit is August to February.
Ranthambhor National Park : This is the state's point of the Aravallis, the Guru Shikhar, lies in this 289 sq km sanctuary. Established in 1960, this provides shelter to the common languar, wild boar, sambhar and leopard. The grey jungle fowl can also be spotted here. Besides, a number of flowering trees enhance the beauty of this place.
Sariska Wildlife Sanctuary - Alwar : The other tigerland in Rajasthan which was brought under Project Tiger in 1979. Other than leopard, sambhar, nilgaai, wild dog and chinkara, the ruins of 9th and 10th century temples exist here.
Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary : The majestic fort of Kumbhalgarh overlooks the 578 sq. km. sanctuary. The Aravallis hills, which remain barren for most of the year, turn green during rains and provide shelter to sloth bear, leopard, flying squirrel. It is also the only sanctuary where the Indian wolf is breeding suesssfully.
Mount Abu Sanctuary : The highest point of the Aravallis, the Guru Shikhar, lies in this 289 sq km sanctuary. Established in 1960, this provides shelter to the common langaur, wild boar, sambhar and leopard. The grey jungle fowl can also be spotted here. Besides, a number of flowering trees enhance the beauty of this pace.
Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary : A fairly new sanctuary, it was established in 1983 and covers a total area of 229 sq. km. of scrub and dry deciduous forest. Leopards, chinkaara, sloth bear can be spotted here if one is lucky.
Darrah Sanctuary : Previously the hunting ground of the Kota maharajas, this sanctuary was established in 1995 and covers an area of 266 sq. km. This hilly sanctuary with its thick forests is worth a visit. The animals here include wolf, sloth bear, chinkara and leopard.
Desert National Sanctuary : Established in 1980, it is a colossal park sprawling on 3162 sq. km. It has shrubs and trees in addition to rolling sand dunes. The wildlife wealth here comprises fox, desert cat, hare, spiney tail uromastix and sand fish. Thousands of sparrows, imperial sand grouse, bustards, falcons and eagles migrate here during the winters.
Jaisamand Sanctuary : Established in 1957, this sanctuary is located beside the man-made lake of the same name. Covering a total area of 160 sq. km., it harbours sloth bear, leopard, chital, chinkara, wild boar and a number of birds. Some crocodiles and fish also be spotted here.
Other sanctuaries in Rajasthan include Sitamata, Darrah, Chambal, Tal Chapper, Jamwa Ramgarh, Kaila Devi, Van-Vihar, Ramgarh, Shergarh, Todgarh-Rad and Jawahar Sagar.