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Cheetahs are back, but what all animal species are extinct in India?

In the last few years 5 fauna and 14 flora species have been extinct in India as per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

By Pallav Jain
New Update
Extinct animal species of India

Animal species extinct in India: Today, 17th September 2022,  eight Namibian Cheetahs are being translocated to Kuno National park. Hence, Cheetahs are coming back to India land almost 70 years after their extinction. This is the first step in the much ambitious “Project Cheetah”. According to news agency PTI, there is a possibility that next month India will have another batch of 12 South African cheetahs.

Read more here: First batch of 12 cheetahs from South Africa likely to reach India in October 

Asiatic cheetah, A. j. venaticus, went extinct in India around 70 years back, when the last wild one was hunted to death for sport. Now the sub-species, only found in Iran, are only 12 in number. Interestingly, the ones introduced now are of  different subspecies A. j. Jubatus.

Read more here: What Is The Cost Of India’s Cheetah Project?

India has been working to translocate the Cheetahs since 2020, on the ordered by Supreme Court. The supreme court said that African cheetahs could be introduced in a “carefully chosen location” on an experimental basis.

In the last few years, five fauna and fourteen flora species have gone extinct in India as per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. While everyone is focused on Cheetah, let us see what other animal species have been extinct in India in the last few centuries.

Animal Species Extinct in India

Indian Javan Rhinoceros:

Also known as Javan Rhino or Sundarban Rhino. It belongs to the same genus as the Indian rhinoceros. Once found in North east India and Sunderbans are now just limited to Ujong Kulon National Park in Java. The species also went extinct in Vietnam in 2011.

Indian Javan Rhinoceros
Indian Javan Rhino | Source: WWF

Northern Sumatran rhinoceros:

Also known as Chittagong rhinoceros or northern hairy rhinoceros. Sumatran rhinos are the smallest of the living rhinoceroses and the only Asian rhino with two horns.There are currently 275 Sumatran Rhinos left in fragmented populations throughout South East Asia. 

Northern Sumatran rhinoceros
Sumatran Rhino | Source: RRC

Indian aurochs:

It is an extinct aurochs sub-species and is considered the wild ancestor of the domestic zebu cattle. These beautiful animals were larger and more muscular variants of domestic cattle. They are said to be extremely similar to the extant Gaur.

Indian aurochs
Engraving from the Bhimbetka rock shelters, suggested to be an Indian aurochs from the Pleistocene | Source:Wikimedia

Pink-headed duck:

Once found in parts of the Gangetic plains of India, parts of Maharashtra, Bangladesh and in the riverine swamps of Myanmar but has been feared extinct since the 1950s. In 1988, Rory Nugent, an American birder, and Shankar Barua of Delhi, reported spotting the elusive bird on the banks of the Brahmaputra.

However, Nugent and Barua's claimed sighting has not been widely accepted.

Pink-headed duck
Missing poster of Pink Headed Duck | Source: Delhi Greens

Himalayan Quail:

The Himalayan quail (Ophrysia superciliosa) or mountain quail, is a medium-sized quail belonging to the pheasant family. It was last reported in 1876 and is feared extinct. This species was known from only 2 locations (and 12 specimens) in the western Himalayas in Uttarakhand, north-west India. The last verifiable record was in 1876 near the hill station of Mussoorie.

Himalayan Quail
Himalayan Quail | Source: Wikimedia

A Miracle : Malabar Civet

Malabar large-spotted civet (Viverra civettina), also known as the Malabar civet, is a viverrid regularly found in the Western Ghats of India. Once widespread in the Western Ghats, the Malabar civet was declared possibly extinct in 1978. Although it was rediscovered nine years later, it has never been photographed and there has been no published proof of its continued survival for over a decade. If the species survives at all, it is likely to be a series of isolated relic populations, largely confined to thickets in cashew nut plantations.

A Miracle
Malabar Civet | Source: Safari India


Some other animals are also on the verge of extinction in our country like Asiatic Lion now are just 650 in number, our national animal Bengal Tiger around 2000, Snow Leopard almost 500, and One-Horned Rhino almost 2000.

Today with the translocation of Cheetah to India, we have the opportunity to become more aware about the conservation of our endangered species.Today, we should also review how many animal species are under the threat of extinction and how the drastic effects of climate change are disturbing the once peaceful ecosystem.

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