Perhaps Asia’s most famous resident is the Bengal tiger. Hunted to near extinction this magnificent cat is now offered sanctuary in more than 40 designated tiger reserves. The most popular, Ranthambore National Park is located to the south of Delhi and easily reached by train. The park is carefully managed and whilst sightings cannot be guaranteed expert naturalists will take you through the park searching for signs of tigers nearby. If you are not lucky enough to spot one then the park is also home to more than 250 species of birds, leopard, sambar deer, and several species of monkey as well as marsh crocodiles.
Perhaps the most spoilt of all the endangered species is the giant panda. The world famous Chengdu Research centre in China is home to almost 50 of these beautiful and somewhat strange animals. At any given time almost a third of these are on loan to zoos around the world to assist with breeding programs. August and September are typically the times when mothers give berth and it is worth timing a visit to see the tiny bundles of black and white fur stumbling around their enclosure. The teenagers are typically more lively and can be seen jostling for the best piles of bamboo.
Conservation has been in practice in Borneo for many years now in a bid to protect the gentle orang-utan. Rehabilitation centres in Sepilok and Semenggoh have been worked hard to care for orang-utans orphaned by the logging industry and prepare them for life back in the wild. A visit at feeding time when these primates swing in from the forest is unforgettable. Harder to spot are the proboscis monkeys, look out for their tell-tale oversized nose.
The leopard is notoriously tough to spot, but Sri Lanka’s Yala National is said to have the highest concentration in the world of these reclusive cats. Again if luck isn’t on your side you are likely to see large herds of elephant, Sri Lankan sloth bear, wild buffalo and fishing cats. At certain times of year it is also possible to spot whales passing by the southern tip of the island.