Namdapha National Park

Wild and remote, this may be the only place in the world with Bengal tigers and common leopards plus both snow and clouded leopards.

Bewitching red pandas look down from tree perches at higher elevations. Musk deer graze— slaughtered to near-extinction for musk glands used in perfume and treatment of impotence. Asiatic golden cats, so rare that little is known of their habits, have striped faces, are lithe and golden-red, hunt in pairs and are intolerant of human disturbance.

Hoolock gibbons, black, furry, white eyebrowed members of a family once thought to be humans’ closest primate relatives, move upright on two legs, and also swing through forests on long arms—primate aerial acrobats.

Big-eyed, nocturnal slow lorises, one of the world’s most sluggish animals, are lightning-fast when they want to be, grabbing lizards and large insects which do not realize until too late that this small fuzzy creature can move at all. Strong leg muscles let them sleep motionless through the day, hanging upside-down from tree branches.

Small goat-like ghoral antelopes gallop at breakneck speed along sheer fall-offs, safer than if they went slower because (films show) their hooves have left the loose rocks before the latter begin to roll under their impact. Others among 96 mammal species include Asian elephants, threatened dhole or Asiatic wild dogs, wild Asiatic buffalo, binturongs—small, dark arboreal “bearcats.” Also here are shaggy, oxen-like takins.

Rich birdlife includes mountain hawk-eagles, gray peacock-pheasants, imperial pigeons, pintailed green pigeons, oriental bay owls, rufous-necked hornbills, red-headed trogons, crimson-winged laughing thrushes, white-hooded shrike babblers, scarlet-backed flowerpeckers. Three major rivers and many lakes attract migratory waterfowl.

This mix of rare Indo-Burmese, Indo-Chinese, and Himalayan wildlife is possible because of the extraordinary habitat diversity of this 698-square-mile (1,607-km2) reserve in easternmost India, ranging from wet evergreen forest at lower elevations to temperate montane forest at 14,800 feet (4,500 m). Major threats are increasingly from slash-and-burn agriculture by surrounding tribal villagers.

Permits are necessary. Access is difficult. Best times are October–March.

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