mammals of india


Guinea Pig by Jorge Ibarra L.

Adventure pig!

The Binturong, Arctictis binturong

The Binturong of South and Southeast Asia is primarily arboreal but is a bit clumsy, good at climbing but not leaping, and awkward on the ground.  Its nickname is bearcat, but it’s not a bear or a cat;  it’s a primitive mammal also called a civet or genet.  The tail is prehensile. 

Classified by the IUCN as vulnerable to extinction, the Binturong faces the typical perils brought on by human activity — deforestation and habitat loss, and hunting for food, fur, and the pet trade.  They’re not particularly small animals;  in captivity they can weight up to 70 pounds.  Their anti-predatory defenses allow them to fend for themselves quite well in the wild, but like all wildlife, the Binturong are basically defenseless when encountering humans.

India included the Binturong in CITES Appendix III, and it is listed as critically endangered on the China Red List.  In Malaysia, where the indigenous people keep Binturongs as pets, the animal is protected.


The Lion-tailed Macaque (Macaca silenus), or the wanderoo, is an Old World monkey endemic to the Western Ghats of South India.

A recent assessment for IUCN reports 3,000-3,500 of these animals live scattered over several areas in Kerala.  The lion-tailed macaque ranks among the rarest and most threatened primates.  Their range has become increasingly isolated and fragmented by the spread of agriculture and tea, coffee, teak and cinchona, construction of water reservoirs for irrigation and power generation, and human settlements to support such activities.  They do not live, feed or travel through plantations.  Destruction of their habitat and their avoidance of human proximity have led to the drastic decrease of their population.  However, it is no longer on ‘The World’s 25 Most Endangered Primates’ list, after the international body compiling the report determined that the local governments in southern India had acted positively to protect it.

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Blackbuck or Indian Antelope

The Blackbuck is an antelope found in India and Nepal.  Near-threatened, it is extinct in Bangladesh.  In Hinduism, the Blackbuck has significance and so Indian and Nepali villagers do not harm the antelope.  In India, hunting of Blackbuck is prohibited.  The Blackbuck inhabits grassy plains and slightly forested areas.  Due to their regular need of water, they prefer areas where water is perennially available.