Species Recovery Program

Asian Wild Buffalo

  • The wild buffalo was once widely distributed over the tracts of tall grasslands and riverine forests in India and Nepal. The present population of wild buffalo in its entire range is estimated to be lower than 2,000 individuals.
  • Currently, found in North-East India and Chhattisgarh where only a small population survives.
  • IUCN Status: Endangered.
  • Schedule I of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (Highest Protection). State Animal of Chhattisgarh.

Asiatic Lion

  • GIR forest, a dry deciduous forest ecosystem in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, is the abode of the last surviving population of the free ranging Asiatic Lion (Panthera leo persica).
  • The total distribution range of lion in this region is estimated to be around 9000 sq.km in three districts, i.e., Junagadh, Amreli and Bhavnagar, of which GIR National Park, GIR Wildlife Sanctuary, Paniya Wildlife Sanctuary and Mitiyal Wildlife Sanctuary account for about 1,193 sq.km.
  • The conservation initiatives taken so far have resulted in arresting the trend of population decline of lions.
  • IUCN Status: Endangered
  • State Animal of Gujarat.
  • New sites identified for possible relocation of lion in the future are:
    • Madhav National Park, MP
    • Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
    • Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan
    • Gandhi Sagar Wildlife Sanctuary, MP
    • Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajasthan
    • Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary, MP

Brow-Antlered Deer or Sangai

  • It is a unique animal found only in Manipur, India. The only deer which has adapted itself to swampy habitat.
  • Phumdis of Loktak lake is the residence of this species. IUCN status: Critically Endangered


Dugong is the only herbivorous mammal that is strictly marine, and the only member of the Order Sirenia found in India. Dugongs are restricted to coastal shallow marine habitats and grazes on the sea grass meadows in coastal waters and are called as “Sea Cows.”

  • In India, it is one of the most seriously endangered species of large mammals.
  • Dugongs are vulnerable to anthropogenic pressures as they are solely dependent on sea grasses in coastal areas, which now have been seriously damaged by mining, trawling etc.
  • Dugongs have also been hunted for their meat, oil, hides, bones and teeth.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  • Tamil Nadu Government in Palk Bay have established a Dugong conservation reserve. It will be India’s first dugong conservation reserve. The site is of the coast of Thanjavur.

Edible Nest Swiftlet

  • Found in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • IUCN Status: Least Concern.

Gangetic River Dolphin

  • Gangetic or River Dolphin is one of the most endangered species found in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and their tributaries.
  • They are the symbols of the ecological health of our major river systems.
  • The emphasis on crocodiles, as the flagship species of the river systems has helped this species to some extent, but the waning of focused efforts of conservation have again resulted in their decline.
  • IUCN Status: Endangered

Great Indian Bustard

  • The Bustards are an extremely endangered group of birds dependent on grassland ecosystems.
  • Once upon a time, they used to occur in the arid, semi-arid and moist grasslands across the country.
  • There are four species of Bustards in India Great Indian Bustard, Lesser Florican, Bengal Florican and Houbara Bustard.
  • They are among the most threatened of the 22 Bustards found in the world.
  • The Great Indian Bustard is now locally extinct from almost 90 per cent of its former range. The present population is estimated to be less than 1000 only.
  • Similarly, perhaps, only less than 2500 Lesser Floricans survive in the whole world. The total global population of Bengal Florican could be between 400 to 500 individuals.
  • The status of Houbara Bustard is also no more encouraging. These species have depleted, mainly due to the degradation of grasslands.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered


  • Kashmir Stag or Hangul is one of the most critically endangered species found in the temperate grasslands of western Himalayas.
  • Dachigam National Park in Kashmir represents one such grassland habitat that supports Hangul, a highly threatened and the only subspecies of the red deer (Cervus elaphus) to be found in India, which is now confined only to the Kashmir Valley.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Indian Rhino or Great One-horned Rhinoceros

  • The great one-horned or Indian rhinoceros once existed across the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent from Pakistan to the Indian-Burmese border, and including parts of Nepal and Bhutan.
  • The species now exists only in a few small population units generally situated in the north-eastern India and in Nepal.
  • The latest population estimation of the species shows that only less than 2,700 animals remain in the wild. T
  • he preferred habitat of an Indian rhinoceros are primarily areas that contain grasslands and wetlands located in the foothills of the Himalayas and the Brahmaputra and Ganges valley.
  • At present, the species are restricted to small patches in the Indo-Nepal Terai, northern parts of West Bengal, and Assam. Formerly they were extensively distributed in the Brahmaputra and Gangetic valley.
  • Successfully, reintroduced in Dudhwa National Park.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  1. Sumatran Rhino: IUCN Status – Critically endangered
  2. Javan Rhino: IUCN Status – Critically endangered
  3. Black Rhino: IUCN Status – Critically endangered
  4. White Rhino: IUCN Status – Near Threatened

Jerdon’s Courser

  • It is a nocturnal bird endemic to India. It is found in small geography in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh.
  • Its principal habitat is the Sri Lankamalleswara Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered.

Malabar Civet

  • The Malabar large spotted civet was once a common species in the coastal districts of Malabar and Travancore in southwest India in the low elevation moist forests of the Western Ghats.
  • By the late 1950s it was reported to be almost ‘extinct’. None were seen for a long period of time until 1987, when it was rediscovered about 60 km east of Calicut in Kerala.
  • Extensive deforestation has reduced the Malabar civet’s.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Marine Turtles

  • Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) is one of the most charismatic creatures inhabiting the tropical and temperate waters from Pacific to North Atlantic and throughout the Indian Ocean (Shanker 2003).
  • It is the largest extant marine turtle in the world and follows the longest migratory route known for turtles.
  • The species is currently listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN red list and has been given the highest level of protection under Schedule I (Part II) of the Indian Wildlife protection Act, 1972.
  • In India, Leatherback nesting is specific only to the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago (Namboothri et. al 2010).
  • Pioneering work done by ANET/MCBT, IISc (CES) and Forest department in the past three decades has highlighted Little Andaman and Southernmost Great Nicobar Islands as the potential nesting sites

Nicobar Megapode

  • Found in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Nilgiri Tahr

  • Nilgiri Tahr, a mountain goat, is the highly threatened flagship species occur on the crest lines and ridge forests of the southern Western Ghats.
  • The ideal habitat of this species is the rocky outcrops adjacent to the shola-grasslands and other ridge forests.
  • Only less than 2000 individuals of this species are remaining in the wild in the whole world with the major population confined to Eravikulam National Park in Kerala and Grizzled Giant Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu.
  • IUCN Status: Endangered

Snow Leopard

  • Snow leopard is perhaps the most endangered of the large cats, with an estimated population of only 400 to 700 individuals in five Himalayan states in India.
  • This species suffers from intense conflicts with rural communities, habitat degradation and depletion of natural prey base, poaching for its exquisite fur and valuable bones (used in traditional Chinese medicine).
  • The UT of Ladakh has the distinction of harbouring a major portion of existing snow leopard population in India.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Swamp Deer

  • Swamp deer or Barasingha were once abundant throughout tall wet grasslands of North Indian Terai region, Brahamaputra flood plains & Central Indian grasslands bordering sal forests. Currently, swamp deer populations are confined to Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam & Madhya Pradesh in India. It differs from all other Indian deer species as its antlers carry more than three teeths.
  • It has three sub-species:
    • Western Swamp Deer: It is adapted to flooded tall grassland habitat in the Indo-Gangetic plains and terai in India (UP and Uttarakhand) and Nepal.
    • Southern Swamp Deer: It is adapted to hard ground in open sal forests with a grass understorey. It survives only in Kanha National Park. It has also been reintroduced in Satpura National Park
    • Eastern Swamp Deer: Found only in Assam mostly in Kaziranga & Manas National Park.
  • State Animal of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. IUCN Status: Vulnerable


  • Vultures are scavenging birds of prey.
  • They have been divided into New World vultures, which include the Californian and Andean condors, and the Old-World vultures, which include the White-rumped and Red-headed vultures. Old World vultures are found in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
  • There are no vultures in Australia and Antarctica.
  • Distinguishing characteristics of most vultures includes a bald head, devoid of normal feathers and feathery neck. The bare head is supposedly to maintain hygiene while feeding on carcass and also for thermoregulation.
  • Nine species of vultures exist in India, which five belong to the genus Gyps. Three Gyps vultures, namely White-rumped Vulture, Long-billed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture are residents, and remaining two, Eurasian Griffon Vulture and Himalayan Griffon Vulture are largely wintering species.
  • Vultures are nature’s most efficient scavengers. The Gyps vultures are specialized to feed on the soft tissue of the large ungulate carcasses. They play a vital role in the ecosystem by cleaning up the rotten carcasses left in the open.
  • The population of Gyps vultures in the Indian subcontinent has crashed since 1990s onwards. The populations of White-rumped Vulture, Long-billed Vulture and Slender-billed Vulture had declined by around 97% during the last two decades.
  • Veterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ‘diclofenac’ is the main cause attributed for this drastic population decline. Government of India has banned the use of diclofenac in veterinary medicine, has initiated Vulture Breeding Program for ex situ conservation and enhanced in situ protection of the remaining populations.
  • Vulture Breeding Centre has been established at Pinjore, Haryana.
  • Species of Vultures in India and their IUCN Status:
    • White-rumped Vulture (Critically Endangered)
    • Red-headed Vulture (Critically Endangered)
    • Slender Billed Vulture (Critically Endangered)
    • Indian Vulture (Critically Endangered)
    • Egyptian Vulture (Endangered)
    • Cinerous Vulture (Near Threatened)
    • Lammergeyer Vulture (Near Threatened) 8. Himalayan Griffon (Near Threatened)

Northern River Terrapin – Species of riverine turtle

  • Rivers that flow in Eastern India.
  • Hunted for meat and carapace.
  • IUCN Status: Critically Endangered

Clouded Leopard

  • Himalayan foothills from India, South-East Asia and South China. State animal of Meghalaya.
  • It uses its tail for balancing when moving in trees. It can climb down vertical tree trunks headfirst. It rests in trees during the day and hunts by night on the forest floor.
  • Habitat loss: poached for its skin and is also as a live pet trade.
  • IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Arabian Sea Humpback Whale

All major oceans

  • Threatened due to ship strikes, unforgiving fishing gear and seismic explorations
  • IUCN Status: Endangered

Red Panda

  • Closely associated with montane forests with dense bamboo-thicket, is found in Sikkim, West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Poached for its meat, and for use in medicines, and as a pet.
  • IUCN Status: Endangered

Noble’s Helen

The Noble’s Helen butterfly, a rare species, was discovered for the first time in India at the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh. It has been reported to be disappearing from its known ranges in Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

About Noble’s Helen

  • It is a swallowtail butterfly with a wingspan of 100-120 mm, and it has an additional white spot in the dorsum of the forewing.
  • Its scientific name is Papilio noblei.
  •  It is found in Myanmar, Yunnan, Hubei (China), North Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Indian Skimmer

Characteristics, Habitat and Behaviour:

  • The Indian skimmer grows to a length of 40-43 cm.
  • It breeds colonially on large, exposed sand-bars and islands.
  • It feeds on surface-dwelling fish, small crustaceans and insect larvae.
  • IUCN status – Endangered
  • Distribution: More widespread in winter, the Indian skimmer is found in the coastal estuaries of western and eastern India. It occurs primarily on larger, sandy, lowland rivers, around lakes and adjacent marshes and, in the non-breeding season, in estuaries and coasts.

Indian bison

  • It belongs to the family of wild oxen and is the tallest living and the second heaviest among oxen.
  • The Gaur is a social animal. They generally live in group size of about 30 to 40.


  • It is native to South Asian Region and Southeast Asia.
  • In India, – Western Ghats, the forests of central India and forest patches in the Northeast.
  • 85% of the global population present in India.
  • They prefer evergreen forests and moist deciduous forests. However, they can survive in dry deciduous forests also. They are attracted to grounds which are impregnated with salts and minerals.
  • The Indian Bison is deemed as vulnerable according to the IUCN list.
  • Hence, the Indian Government has already included the protection of wild bison in the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It calls for the proper regulation in the indiscriminate grazing of cattle around the areas where the gaurs stay.
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