15 November 2019 | 4 min read

Endangered Species in India – 7 species in India That Everyone Should Know


The Cheetah may owe its name to the Sanskrit word Citraka referring to ‘spots’, but it’s an irony that in India, it’s only the name that lives on. In 1947, when a Maharaja shot down the last three, the Asiatic Cheetah was officially declared as an extinct animal in India by 1952.

While it was hunting and other human activities that mostly drove the Asiatic Cheetah in India to extinction, we might witness a repeat with some other animals that could soon become critically endangered species in India. The depleting numbers due to growing desertification and the crisis of habitat loss with land degradation and deforestation are alarming. Well, that is what the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species indicates.

This Red List is known to be the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conversation status of all species and is referred to by experts and conservationists around the globe. It identifies and classifies species according to their high risk of extinction and is becoming one of the endangered species of India.

From the latest 2019 list, we have highlighted seven among the several critically endangered species in India that caught our attention.

List of Critically Endangered Species in India:

1. The Ganges Shark {Glyphis Gangeticus}

Ganges Shark

Among the six species of river sharks found across the world, the Ganges Shark is one of the endangered animals in India. It is generally found in the lower Ganga, Mahanadi and Bramhaputra, and especially River Hooghly in West Bengal. While habitat loss with the building of dams is one of the prime culprits, over-fishing also contributes a great deal. The local’s fish it for its meat and oil while the jaws and fin go ahead the business chain as high demand international trade items. The numbers have been declining fast with no figure on The Red List to gauge its estimated population.

2. Gharial {Gavialis Gangeticus}


Often confused with the crocodiles and alligators, the Gharial is a related but different species. With its long, slender snout packed in with 106-110 needle-like teeth and a bulbous nose tip, the Gharials are mainly fish eating. Their specialized snouts help them rapidly slice through the waters of the Chambal River, where they are mostly found. After a long spate of decline, the numbers have now started showing an increase as noted in the Red List with a current population of 300-900. Head to the National Chambal Sanctuary, located on the border of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. However, if you are in North India, we recommend you make it a road trip as the roads from Delhi to the sanctuary are in good condition.

3. Great Indian Bustard {Ardeotis Nigriceps}

Great Indian Bustard

This large, beautiful ground-dwelling bird always found in grassy plains, continues to be a victim of indiscriminate hunting and loss of habitat with agriculture and mining; despite being a protected species. Presently it’s found in some pockets of Rajasthan and the Deccan Peninsula. These are among those birds that lay only one egg, two being extremely rare and are of the endangered species in India. While efforts are underway to build a ‘captive population’ through breeding, the IUCN estimates that there are only about 50-249 left in the country.

4. Slender-billed Vulture {Gyps Tenuirostris}

Slender-billed Vulture

The North of the Gangetic Plain, right from Himachal Pradesh to West Bengal, is home to the total estimated population of 1000-2499 Slender-billed vultures and is adding in the list of the endangered species in india. The curious case of their decline stems from feeding off the carcass of animals treated with diclofenac, a drug that is good for the animals but poison for these birds.

5. Malabar Large Spotted Civet {Viverra Civettina}

Malabar Large Spotted Civet

Along with the Hangul (Kashmir Red Deer), the Malabar Spotted Civet is one of the endangered animals in India that may rank among the top in the critically endangered species list. Native to the Western Ghats, especially in Karnataka and Kerala, these elusive mammals have not been spotted in the wild since 1987. Once abundant in the region of Travancore and found across the Malabar Coast, today, it is feared to be less than 250 in total.

6. Pygmy Hog {Porcula Salvania}

Pygmy Hog

Continuously declining over the years, the Pygmy Hog went from being endangered (1986) to currently critically endangered species in India. The current surviving number pegged between 200-500 is found mainly in Assam and is known to be a rare animal across the world.

7. Hangul {Cervus Elaphus Hanglu}


The Hangul, aka Kashmir Red Deer or Kashmir Stag, is spotted mainly in the Dachigam Sanctuary in Jammu and Kashmir, and at times, the fringes of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. A destroyed habitat, overgrazing by livestock, and poaching have brought down the number of this species native to India to a low of 150 and has added to the list of the endangered species in India. Yes, you read that right, 150 left, that’s all.

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