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  • Photograph of Black-and-orange Flycatcher

    The superb Black-and-orange Flycatcher at Pampadum Shola National Park by Coke & Som Smith.

    SOUTHERN INDIA

    Best Wildlife in Southern India

    Mammals
    Lion-tailed Macaque, various langurs, Bonnet Macaque, Grey Slender Loris, Indian Chevrotain, Gaur, Nilgiri Tahr, Chital (Spotted Deer), Sambar, Grizzled, Indian and Malabar Giant Squirrels, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Travancore Flying Squirrel, Stripe-necked Mongoose and Indian Flying Fox. Also a chance of Asian Elephant, Leopard, Leopard and Rusty-spotted Cats, Sloth Bear, Dhole, Indian Crested Porcupine, and Oriental Small-clawed and Smooth-coated Otters, and an outside chance of Nilgiri Marten.

    Birds
    The lists below are for the northern winter.

    Southern India Endemics
    Grey Junglefowl, Grey-fronted (Pompadour) Green Pigeon, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Malabar (Crimson-fronted) and White-cheeked Barbets, White-bellied Treepie, Malabar (Large) Woodshrike, Malabar Lark, White-spotted (White-throated) Fantail, Indian (Chestnut-bellied) Nuthatch, Flame-throated (Black-crested) and Grey-headed Bulbuls, Black-and-orange and Nilgiri Flycatchers, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, Nilgiri Blue and White-bellied Blue Robins (both formerly White-bellied Shortwing), Malabar Whistling Thrush, Black-chinned(Nilgiri) and Grey-breasted (Kerala) Laughingthrushes, (Indian) Rufous Babbler, Malabar White-headed (Chestnut-tailed) Starling, Nilgiri (Plain) Flowerpecker, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Nilgiri Pipit and Rufous-bellied (Black-throated) Munia. Also a chance of Broad-tailed Grassbird and Wynaad Laughingthrush.

    India Endemics
    Red Spurfowl. Also a chance of Painted Bush Quail and White-bellied Minivet.

    Species shared only with Sri Lanka
    Painted Francolin, Crested (Changeable) Hawk Eagle, Blue-faced Malkoha, Sri Lanka Frogmouth, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Indian Swiftlet, Malabar Trogon, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Orange (Scarlet) Minivet, Jerdon’s (Rufous-winged) Bush Lark, Hill (Pacific) Swallow, Square-tailed Black, White-browed and Yellow-browed Bulbuls, Indian Blackbird, Indian (White-browed) Scimitar Babbler, Dark-fronted and Yellow-billed Babblers, Lesser Hill Myna, Jerdon’s (Blue-winged) Leafbird and Long-billed (Loten’s) Sunbird.

    Others
    Spot-billed Pelican, Painted Stork, Indian Peafowl and Indian Pitta, as well as Cotton Pygmy Goose, Oriental Darter, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Indian Pond Heron, Red-naped Ibis, Brahminy Kite, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black, Bonelli’s and Tawny Eagles, Purple Swamphen, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Plum-headed Parakeet, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Jungle and Spotted Owlets, nightjars, Crested Treeswift, Brown-backed Needletail, Alpine Swift, Pied, Stork-billed and White-throated Kingfishers, Blue-bearded, Blue-tailed and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Indian Roller, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, Coppersmith Barbet, woodpeckers including Heart-spotted and White-bellied, Ashy Woodswallow, Small Minivet, Bay-backed Shrike, Black-hooded and Indian Golden Orioles, drongos, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Blue-throated and Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Indian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama, Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Orange-headed Thrush, Brahminy Starling and Gold-fronted Leafbird. Also a chance of Indian and White-rumped Vultures, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Black Baza, Slaty-legged Crake, River Tern, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Black-capped Kingfisher, Dollarbird, White-naped Woodpecker and Forest Wagtail.

    Amphibians and Reptiles
    Mugger Crocodile, Southern Flying Lizard (Draco) and Malabar Gliding Frog.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Southern India

    Best Times for Wildlife in Southern India

    The best times for birds and mammals are November and February.

    Recommended Books etc. for Southern India

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.

    Birds of Southern India by R Grimmett and T Inskipp. Helm, 2005.

    Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2 by P C Rasmussen and J C Anderton. Lynx Edicions and Smithsonian Institution, 2012.

    Indian Mammals: A Field Guide by V Menon. Hachette, 2014.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Southern India

    Many trip reports, some for Southern India, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Southern India. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Southern India' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Southern India

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Southern India

    Some Organized Tours to Southern India

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Southern India include the following.