The wildlife enthusiasts’ fraternity erupted in an uproar this July as The Independent reported systematic hunting of Golden Eagles in Scotland. Given the fact that the majority of its population in Britain is in Scotland, it sounds like a grim reality. Though Golden Eagles aren’t going to get extinct anytime soon, the bugle has perhaps sent the first shock wave. Then, there are the almost human Orangutans, now found only in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.
While the conservation programmes for both the species and many more are going full scale, and the scales are tilting on a pace that’s not very reassuring. The fear of some species becoming extinct in near future are looming high. These names might just become the next Javan Tiger, that was last spotted in 1976, and whose existence in today’s time owes only to a villager’s statement. So before the world goes berserk and we lose some of the best wildlife, let’s explore world’s 10 best wildlife spotting destinations.
1) Golden Eagle at the Isle of Mull, Scotland.
Largely a bird of prey, Golden Eagle must have been astounded at being hunted. This was a complete role reversal. Pack off your bags and land at the Isle of Mull in Scotland to capture these. On camera I meant. Though you can also spot these magnificent birds in Eastern Europe, Italy and a few other places, Isle of Mull is the wildest landscape for the background. Plus, they swoop in so freely towards the grounds at Isle that you might feel like running for cover!
2) Jaguars at the Brazilian Panatanal, Brazil.
The Brazilian Pantanal is essentially a wetland that has around 5000 jaguars roaming in its vicinity. You can hop aboard a motorboat for a safari of the region, and even stay for the night at floating hotels to catch more than just a glimpse of this exotic animal. The safaris are well organised, with some of the operators placing a bet on confirmed sightings over a number of nights spent here!
3) Orangutans at Borneo, north of Java.
This almost human looking ape is now found only in Borneo and Sumatra. Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary at Sabah is one place that’ll give you confirmed sightings of Orangutans. Reason being the narrow stretch of land that makes it impossible for them to hide. This one is for the more conformist and lazy travellers who are happy with clicking a picture or two. But if you ask me, you should go to the natural habitats of these to experience the real wonder. You might as well go to the Danum Valley Conservation Area; it sees lesser tourists and has a huge population of wild Orangutans in their natural habitat.
4) Tragopan at the Himalayan National Park, India.
If you thought peacocks were beautiful, I’ll introduce you to Tragopans, the Miss/Mr Universe of the winged community! Spotting one is quite a task, and it’s usually around sunrise that it descends to lower grounds for mating. The higher altitudes of the Great Himalayan National Park in India are one of the best regions to spot one. Its distinctive voice is one of the most important cues to follow. Keep your cameras handy, for once you spot a Tragopan, you’re bound to fall in love and maybe forget taking a picture. Be on your toes.
5) Green Sea Turtle at The Great Barrier Reef, Australia.
When you read Green Sea Turtle, you can also count in fascinating 400 types of corals and some 1500 varieties of fish as you dive down world’s largest coral reef system. Stretching by Queensland, it’s the only living structure that’s visible from space! You’ll fine a number of trained personnel here who’ll take you for scuba diving. What unfolds after that is a riot of colours with a blue backdrop of course.
6) Polar Bear at Churchill, Canada.
Churchill is one of the very few human inhabited places in the world where you can see Polar Bears in their natural habitat. While the species will soon fall into the category of endangered species, you still have the chance to watch it face to face at Churchill. Contact any tour organiser there for exclusive polar bear spotting tours. With some luck, you’ll also bump into Beluga Whales in the icy blue waters of the region.
7) Asiatic Lions at Gir National Park, Gujarat. India.
This one is rare, very rare, found only in some parts of the Indian state of Gujarat. Your best bet to watch this stately animal roaming the wilds is at Gir National Park, Gujarat. You can go on a safari across the national park and watch these very Aslanish looking creatures sprinting across the forest area. If lucky, you might see them in hordes, with the very playful cubs making for picture perfect shots.
8) Himalayan Marmot, Upper Himalayas in India, Tibet, Nepal.
It might just be a coincidence but even the Himalayan marmot looks very Narnian. Doesn’t it? Though this one is still out from the endangered list, it’s rare for the simple fact that it falls in the category of the very few mammals that inhabit such high altitude regions. Ladakh in India is the perfect place to spot this funny looking species. Quite elusive, it inhabits solitary, rocky stretches of the Himalayas. Keep your camera handy and ready for these have the habit of flitting around at a pace that can’t easily be matched with.
9) Monarch Butterflies at Central Mexico/California.
Don’t rub your eyes in disbelief, for what you see in the picture is true. Those are Monarch Butterflies, covering every inch and bit of an oyamel tree. In a very fascinating phenomenon, around 100 million (!) monarch butterflies leave for Mexico and California from the U.S. and Canada in late August. Such is the weight (literally) of this mass movement that huge tree collapse under their combined weight! All this as they try to make it their new habitat for the winters, that is, till March. El Rosaria Monarch Butterfly Reserve, Sierra Chincua Sanctuary and Coronado Butterfly Preserve in California are the best places to watch this strangely fascinating phenomenon. Just for a fact, they lay eggs on their way back home.
10) Komodo Dragons at Indonesian islands. Indonesia.
Ahh.. Okay, this one is spooky and turns man eater at times. But I just couldn’t resist including Komodo Dragon in this wild wild list. It’s largely found in the Indonesian islands, namely Komodo, Rinca, Flores and Gili Motang. Though deers form their main diet, keep your distance while taking pictures. These can only by handled wildlife experts and are a thing to marvel and gasp at, all from a safe distance. Enjoy the view.
There’s quite a lot that can still be included in the list including those dangerously attractive poison dart frogs of Costa Rica. Thus, I’ll be writing more soon. Till then, plan your wild itinerary and do write back with your experiences. And yes, happy travelling.
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