The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, lying to the southeast of India make up an archipelago of approximately 500 islands covering around 8000+ sq. km. of land. Though it is dwarfed in comparison to the whopping 3.28 million sq. km. of its adjacent landmass, this tiny speck of land comprising only 0.25% of India’s geographical area is home to more than 10% of the country’s fauna. From the smallest shrews to the largest animals in the world - the blue whale, these islands and their surroundings thrive with a diverse list of animal species. Here are some of the most notable ones among the Andaman-Nicobar wildlife.
Andaman Spiny Shrew
Usually encountered on Wright Myo and Mount Harriet in the South Andaman Islands, the Andaman Spiny Shrew is a species endemic to India. It is categorised in the vulnerable list (as of 2021) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) primarily due to drastic weather changes, natural calamities like tsunamis and selective logging practices. Their natural habitats are tropical and subtropical dry forests and can be usually found using leaf litter and rock crevices as their home.
Andaman Wild Pig
The Wild Pig of Andaman belongs to the porcine species and is mainly found in the Jarawa reserve forest area. This medium-sized, highly endangered family of pigs is short-legged and black in colour. They also happen to be prolific breeders although that fact amounts to no good due to the hunting habits of the local Jarawa tribe who consider these pigs as the main source of their protein.
The Barking Deer remains one of the surviving species of herbivores that was introduced to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They were introduced by the colonialists around 1905 due to the lack of wild game available for hunting. Being shy, yet good swimmers, they quickly managed to migrate to the rest of the islands and can now be found on the north, middle and south of the archipelagos.
The largest among the toothed whales - the sperm whale is the most plentiful among the large whale species that can be found near the Andaman and Nicobar Island waters. Also known as cachalot, they are the largest toothed predators of our world but still belong to the vulnerable list of IUCN. Interestingly, they get their names from Spermaceti, commonly known as sperm oil - the white and waxy substance that is found in their head cavities. It was used to make candles, lubricants and oil lamps among others.
Derived from the Sanksrit word ‘citrala’ which means spotted, Chital or the Indian Spotted Deer is a species that is abundant not only in Andaman but throughout the world. Due to their high numbers, they are thankfully regarded as a "Least Concern" in the IUCN Red List. One alarm caused by their large population is the threat to the forest cover and thereby other fauna as their main diet comprises of seeds, fruits and leaves when grass is not available.
Dolphin Watching is one of the most popular activities that attracts tourists to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Belonging to the "Least Concern" category of the IUCN Red List, their species is in no imminent danger of extinction. They are usually found in groups numbering from as little as 2 or 3 to hundreds. Lalaji Bay beach on Long Island, Jolly Buoy Island and Havelock are the prime sites to spot them.
Having been hunted over the centuries for oil and meat, Dugong or Seacow is classified as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List. Seagrass is their main source of diet and they can therefore be found in continuous meadows with high seagrass cover. Little Andaman's 'Dugong Creek' is the best bet for you to sight the state animal of Andaman, with Rutland Islands, Ritchie's archipelago and Havelock being the others.
Civets are yet another of the introduced species of the Island. Found in the North, Middle and Southern regions, they are in the “Least Concerned” category of the IUCN Red List. They usually make their home in caves, tree holes and other dark places. One of the prominent reasons for their poaching is due to the fact that they help in producing the most expensive coffee in the world. The Asian Palm Civets defecates fermented coffee beans which are then processed to make kopi luwak or civet coffee which is claimed to be highly nutritious.
For you to have a most involving expedition discovering the rich Andaman wildlife and its gifts, an accessible stay that also provides all the comforts for a guest is a must. Symphony Samudra Beachside Jungle Resort And Spa in Port Blair, Symphony Palms Beach Resort And Spa in Havelock and Symphony Summer Sand Beach Resort And Spa in Neil Islands are the best resorts in Andaman for you to spend some quality time swathed in luxury, while offering unparalleled comfort after an eventful day of exploration and discovery!