The Gharial is the last surviving species of the Gavialidae. It is also known as the fish-eating crocodile. The Gharial is well adapted to hunting fish underwater. An interesting thing about its feeding habits is that gharials also swallow stones. These stones are believed to aid in their digestion and help them maintain buoyancy. Occasionally jewelry has also been found within their stomachs. Gharials are one of the longest crocodiles: some males that can reach up to 6 meters in length.
Once this crocodile was found throughout all of the Northern Subcontinent. But it went extinct in the Indus River system and many other regions due to hunting. Now gharials are only found in certain parts of India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Also known as the Indian wild dog. They are extremely social animals that live in large clans. They are even more social than the famous gray wolves. Dholes have been known to target other predators as well, including tigers.
Nilgai is an antelope that is found throughout North India, Pakistan and Nepal. It is the largest Asian antelope. Its name literally means the blue bull. Nil meaning blue and gai meaning cow/bull. Interestingly Nilgai used to be called nilghor a few centuries ago, meaning the blue horse. These animals stand 1–1.5 metres meters tall, discounting the head and neck.
Male Nilgai (top). Female Nilgai (bottom)
The Dugong is not exactly unique to South Asia as it is found in many different parts of the world. In South Asia, it is found in India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. These animals are herbivorous marine mammals.
Don’t worry. It’s eating the sea grass, not the tiny fishes.
5. Himalayan Musk Deer
The main feature of the Himalayan Musk Deer is that they lack antlers and have an extra large canine tooth that appears like a long fang. This canine continuously grows and can reach up to 10 cm in length. The Himalayan Musk Deer is found throughout Northern South Asia. It is found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan.
The markhor is Pakistan’s national animal. Its name literally means snake-eater. It is called as such because in the folk stories, the markhor kills and eats snakes. This animal is found in the northern parts of Pakistan. In the local Balti language, the markhor is called reedakh.
7. Indus and Ganges River Dolphin
The Indus and Ganges River Dolphins are found within the Indus and Ganges river systems respectively. As their name indicates, both are fresh water dolphins. An interesting thing about them is that they are effectively blind. It can only detect the intensity and direction of light, not the shapes themselves. For this reason, it is known as the blind dolphin. The number of these river dolphins are increasing recently due to conservation efforts by the South Asian nations. They are found in Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The top image is of the Ganges River Dolphin. The bottom of an Indus River Dolphin.
8. Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa
The Baluchistan Pygmy Jerboa is the world’s smallest rodent, with an average adult being around 4.4 cm (excluding the tail). It is also one of the most adorable rodents. They are found within the Balochistan region of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
9. Asian giant hornet
These giant hornets are mostly found in East Asia but also in certain parts of South Asia, in India and Nepal. These hornets can be up to 5 cm long. They are also responsible for many human deaths every year. These deaths are mostly in Japan, where they take around 40 lives every year. The venom from their sting can dissolve human tissue.
The Gaur, also known as the Indian Bison, is one of the largest bovines in the world. With the males standing about 6 feet tall at the shoulders on average. It is found in South Asia and South-East Asia. Just think of it as a wild bovine on steroids.