The Northeastern region of India is known for its rich biodiversity and unique cultural heritage. One of the most fascinating aspects of this region is its diverse array of state animals. Each of the eight states in the Northeastern region has its own designated state animal, each representing a distinct aspect of the region’s natural and cultural heritage.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the state animals of Northeastern states and explore their significance to the region.
Assam- Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros
The one-horned Indian rhinoceros, also known as the greater one-horned rhinoceros, is the state animal of Assam. This majestic animal is known for its distinctive single horn and thick grey skin. It is also the largest of the three Asian rhinoceros species and is found primarily in the Brahmaputra river valley in Assam.
The one-horned Indian rhinoceros is an important symbol of the state’s rich biodiversity and conservation efforts. The Kaziranga National Park which contains 70% of the rhino population is among the most popular destination to spot rhinos in their natural habitat.
Arunachal Pradesh- Mithun
The Mithun, also known as the Gayal, is the state animal of Arunachal Pradesh. This large mammal is a semi-domesticated form of the gaur, a wild cattle species found in Southeast Asia. The Mithun is known for its hardiness and adaptability and is primarily found in the mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur.
The Mithun is an important cultural and economic symbol for the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh and is considered a symbol of wealth and status. The animal is also an important source of meat and milk for the local communities and is often sacrificed during religious and cultural ceremonies.
The Sangai, also known as the Brow-antlered Deer or Manipur Brow-antlered Deer, is the state animal of Manipur. This unique deer is found only in the Keibul Lamjao National Park in Manipur and is listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The Sangai is known for its distinctive brow antlers and is also known as the dancing deer due to its unique gait. The animal is considered a symbol of pride and identity for the people of Manipur and is closely associated with the state’s culture and heritage. The sangai is an important symbol of conservation efforts in the state and is protected under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Meghalaya- Clouded Leopard
The Clouded Leopard is the state animal of Meghalaya. This elusive big cat is known for its cloud-like spots on its fur and is found in the dense forests of the northeastern region of India and Southeast Asia.
The Clouded Leopard is considered a symbol of strength and power in the Khasi and Jaintia cultures of Meghalaya and is often depicted in traditional art forms such as the War Dance and Doregata. The animal is also revered in local folklore and is considered a symbol of the region’s natural beauty and biodiversity.
Mizoram– Himalayan Serow
The Himalayan Serow, also known as the Indian Serow, is the state animal of Mizoram. This majestic goat-antelope is found primarily in the Himalayas and some parts of Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the Serow is a threatened and endangered species due to habitat loss and hunting for meat.
One interesting fact about the Himalayan Serow is its unique territorial marking behavior. The animal uses a secretion from its preorbital glands to mark rocks and also marks its territory with trails, dung heaps, and scents. This behavior is one of the many fascinating characteristics that make the Serow an important part of Mizoram’s natural heritage.
Nagaland – Mithun
Mithun, the pride of Nagaland is a highly traditional and unique prize animal. It is found in a few North Eastern states in India and there are four defined strains: Arunachal, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram. The animal holds significant economic, social, and cultural value for tribal people, and owning a mithun is a symbol for the state’s various ethnic communities and is often featured in traditional festivals and ceremonies.
Mithun is considered a sign of social and economic superiority in the community. Historically, Mithun is raised under a free-range system and kept in village community forests and jungles in groups or herds, with no sheds provided except for common salt feeding.
Sikkim– Red Panda
The Red Panda is a critically endangered species, and it is no surprise that it has been designated as the state animal of Sikkim, where it finds its natural habitat. The Kanchendzonga National Park, Singalila National Park, and Namdhapa National Park are the only protected areas in India designated for the conservation of the red panda.
Fun fact: The popular Firefox web browser takes its name from a nickname for the red panda.
Tripura– Phayre’s Langur
Phayre’s Langur, also known as the Phayre’s Leaf Monkey, is a unique and endangered species known for its distinctive spectacled appearance. Unfortunately, this species has experienced a significant decline in population over the past 35 years, primarily due to the loss of its natural habitat as a result of jhum cultivation, timber logging, and hunting. The Phayre’s Langur can be found in the Sepahijala, Trishna, and Gumti Wildlife Sanctuaries in Tripura.
Sepahijala National Park is the only location where these “spectacle monkeys” are currently being protected and conserved.
Please note that visitors to some of the Northeastern states require an Inner Line Permit (ILP). Details about how to obtain an ILP document are discussed in one of our earlier articles.