Rajasthan is a haven for a wide spectrum of wildlife sanctuaries. The topography of Rajasthan ranges from the barren desert, scrub-thorn arid forests, rocks and ravines to wetlands and lush, green forests. And each of these areas houses a large variety of animal and bird life. Some of them rare while some endangered. Rajasthan is the home of the tigers, black bucks, chinkara, the rare desert fox, the endangered caracal, the great Indian bustard, gavial, monitor lizard, wild boars, porcupine. Migratory birds like the common crane, ducks, coots, pelicans and the rare Siberian cranes, imperial sand grouse, falcons, buzzards flocks to this state during the winter months. Typical areas representing each of the ecosystems have been earmarked as special areas wildlife. Rajasthan boasts of two National Parks, over a dozen Sanctuaries and two Closed Areas. Most of these areas are open to visitors round the year but are closed briefly during the monsoon.
Bhensrod Garh Sanctuary
A fairly new sanctuary, it was established in 1983 and covers a total area of 229 sq km of scrub and dry deciduous forest. Leopards, chinkara, sloth bear can be spotted here if one is lucky. The best time to visit is between October and May.
Previously the hunting ground of the Kota maharajas, this sanctuary was established in 1955 and covers an area of 266 sq km. This hilly sanctuary with its thick forests is worth a visit. The animals here include wolf, sloth bear, chinkara and leopard. The best time to visit is between February and May.
Desert National Sanctuary
Established in 1980, it is colossal park sprawling on 3162 sq km. It has shrubs and trees in addition to rolling sand dunes. The wildlife wealth here comprises fox, desert cat, hare, spiney tail uromastix and sand fish. Thousands of sparrows, imperial sand grouse, bustards, falcons and eagles migrate here during the winter. Best time to visit is September to March.
Established in 1957,this sanctuary is located beside the man-made lake of the same name. Covering a total area of 160 sq km, it harbours sloth bear, leopard, chital, chinkara, wild boar and a number of birds. Some crocodiles and fish can also be spotted here. Best time to visit is between November and January.
Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Bharatpur
Declared a National Park in 1983, this 29 sq km park is one of the world’s greatest heronries. Its shallow, fresh water marsh attracts thousands of migratory birds. Over 10,000 nests of egrets, darters, cormorants, grey herons and storks hatch nearly 20,000 to 30,000 chicks every year. There is an infinite variety of migratory birds. Mammals like the sambhar, blackbuck, chital, nilgai, fishing cat, otter and mongoose also roam freely here. Best time to visit is August to February.
The majestic fort of Kumbhalgarh overlooks the 578 sq km sanctuary. The Aravallis hills, which remain barren for most of the year, turn green rains and provide shelter to sloth bear, leopard, flying squirrel. It is also the only sanctuary where the Indian wolf is breeding successfully. Best time to visit is March to May and September to November.
Mount Abu Sanctuary
The highest point of Aravallis, the Guru Shikhar, lies in this 289 sq km sanctuary. Established in 1960, this provides shelter to the common langaur, wild boar, sambhar and leopard.. The grey jungle fowl can also be spotted here. Besides, a number of flowering threes enhance the beauty of this place.
Ranthambhor National Park
This is the state’s most well-known tiger reserve under Project Tiger. Home of an ecpansive variety of other animals in is 392 sq km area, one can spot sambhar, cheetal, wild boar, leopard, sloth bear, jackal, hyena among others. Artificial lakes, dense forests and the shield of the Aravallis have helped to make this park very impressive and interesting. Best time to visit is October to April.
Sariska Tiger Reserve
The other tiger land in Rajasthan which was brought under Project Tiger in 1979. Other than leopard, sambhar, nilgai, wild dog, and chinkara, the ruins of 9th and 10th century temples exist here. Best time to visit is November to June.
Other sanctuaries include Sitamata, Darrah, Chambal, Tal Chapper, Jamwa Ramgarh, Kaila Devi, Van Vihar, Ramgarh, Shergarh, Todgarh-Rad and Jawahar Sagar.