India is a fantastic country to visit for incredible wildlife experiences. Home to similar wildlife to its neighboring Africa, India has some of the best wildlife sightings on the Asian continent.
Bhopal is then the gateway to the protected wildlife of the Central Indian forest ecosystem and excellent wildlife lodges of the Satpura Tiger Reserve. This protected area covers 350,000 acres and is included in the UNESCO recognised Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve, which includes some of the best wildlife around Bhopal. This incredible wildlife area can be reached by a little over an hours drive from the city.
The wildlife you can see in the Satpura Tiger Reserve include interesting bird life, cheetal deer, sloth bears, leopards and tigers.
Some of the favorite birds to spot include hornbills, peacocks, water birds, grey hornbills, malabar pied hornbills, black shouldered kites, tree pies, shikras, crested serpent eagles, kingfishers, grey wagtails, Tickel’s blue flycatchers, Indian vultures, and many others.
Here we will describe some of the favorite wildlife to see around Bhopal in the Satpura Tiger Reserve (about 135 km from the city) and then mention a recommended lodge for the region’s best wildlife experiences.
Indian Leopards are one of the main animals visitors to India want to see on their Indian safari. Indian leopards are then one of only two large cats in central India, along with the Bengal tiger. There are a little over 10,000 individual leopards distributed throughout the Indian subcontinent feeding on a range of prey, such as deer, fowl, and wild pigs.
Bengal tigers in India have been facing extreme threats from habitat loss, hunting and poaching with all tiger species plummeting in number over the last century. Since 2010, however, the amount of Bengal tigers in India have doubled. There are currently around 2,200 individuals throughout India, which have been protected with the formation of many different tiger reserve, such as the Satpura Tiger Reserve accessed from Bhopal.
Bengal tigers share the same prey types as leopards and hunt chital, sambar, gaur, wild pigs, fowl, and others, including in some instances taking very powerful prey like buffalo.
Gaur are an intimidating looking animal with bulky muscle and powerful horns. They are the largest living bovine species and have a fragmented range throughout south east Asia. India then has one of the most connected and largest populations of their population fragments and the country is thought to contain a little over 20,000 individuals. Due to their size, they have few predators with only tigers and crocodiles being able to bring down a full sized adult.
Cheetal deer are commonly found in Indian forests feeding on small shrubs and tall grass. They are prey animals for a range of predators, including leopards, tigers, rock pythons, wolves, crocodiles and others.
The cheetal are known to co-habit with langur monkeys, which are better at spotting predators. In return, cheetal are thought to be better at detecting prey by smell offering a mutual predator-defense for both species.
Indian wild dogs, or dholes, are a pack hunting canine living throughout India, but are mainly found in India‘s central region. They are diurnal hunters and take a range of animals, from rats all the way up to water buffalo. An aggressive predator and co-ordinated pack hunter, there are reports of packs of wild dogs successfully scaring off leopards and tigers from kills.
Sloth bears are an insectivorous bear found in India and a much loved wildlife sighting. They feet on termites, honeycomb, and fruit. If the opportunity presents itself, sloth bears can end up being preyed on by tigers.
Langur monkeys are common throughout India and are even trained in some cities to help with controlling nuisance animals. They live in the trees but are a lot more comfortable on ground level than other primates. Living in groups, langurs are a very adaptable monkey and feed from a range of plant species.
Recommended Wildlife Lodge near Bhopal
To enjoy Bhopal wildlife, we recommend a tour of Satpura Tiger Reserve from the Reni Pani Jungle Lodge. Reni Pani Jungle Lodge features very comfortable accommodation, delicious food, and excellent tours in the reserve to find the iconic animals of the region with many others.
Featuring different cottages in varied regions of the forest, you can choose from hill cottages, stream or nallah cottages or forest cottages for your base in this incredible area. Each of these then features a luxurious ensuite bathroom.
The lodge is active in conservation and since its foundation has played an important role in preserving the surrounding environment. The lodge employs locals of the region to help minimize the reliance on the forest resources to earn a living, has an active reforestation program in place to help extend wildlife habitat, and is spreading awareness to others about the importance of conservation.
While at Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, you can enjoy wildlife safaris by jeep, rainforest walks, and boat to explore the region’s waterways.