The state of Rajasthan has an allure of its own. The endless desert landscape, the numerous palaces that dot every corner of the state and the stunning wildlife that exists amidst the heterogeneity. But if there is one place in Rajasthan that wildlife photographers would flock to, that would be the Keoladeo National Park in the ancient city of Bharatpur.

Once a popular duck-hunting locale for the Maharajas, today, the Keoladeo National Park or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a UNESCO-recognised world heritage site. The wetland is also a designated Ramsar site. A paradise for bird lovers, Keoladeo National Park is famous for sighting migratory and resident birds like pelicans, darters, coots, herons and eagles and provides sanctuary to 360+ bird species. Birds from countries like Siberia, Afghanistan and China winter in the region. The park is also home to several species of reptiles and amphibians, and other animals like the jackal, hyena, Nilgai, Sambar and Spotted Deer. Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary was recently listed among the best birdwatching sites in the country.

Despite being a location of importance, the Keoladeo ecosystem faces various threats, including pollution, encroachment and other impacts of developmental activities. The National Decadal Wetland Change Atlas, published on World Wetland Day 2022, revealed that the state’s lakes and ponds have reduced by 844 hectares between 2006-07 and 2017-18. In 2019, the National Green Tribunal issued a notification to declare the area around the park as an eco-sensitive zone, which has enabled the prohibition of activities such as mining, the establishment of hydroelectric projects, pollution by industries, and to regulate agricultural activities and felling of trees in the vicinity. With greater awareness about the wildlife that the ecosystem supports, it will be possible to mobilise community action and protect this unique destination.

We thank everyone who contributed to the #BharatpurInFocus chapter of #TheWildNation. We will be travelling to many more exotic locations along with our photographers. Be sure to keep an eye out for our monthly prompts.

Settle down for a virtual tour of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, one of the best bird photography sites in the country. 

To plan a trip to Keoladeo National Park, check out our detailed travel guide.

 Malay Maity

Sambar Deer seen in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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Native to the Indian subcontinent, Sambar Deer inhabit forests, shrublands, grasslands and prefer to stay close to water bodies. Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, habitat modification is a significant threat to the Sambar Deer.

Krishnan YN

Nilgai Antelope also called Bluebull seen in Bharatpur
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A cold winter morning in Bharatpur, captured on camera. The Nilgai is a common sight across northern India, mostly seen grazing in agricultural fields.

Durgaprasad Mylawaram

Bharatpur wetland with migratory birds
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The scenic image portrays how wetlands provide a haven for birds like pelicans and waterfowls. Wetlands are not only an ideal location for migratory birds to rest but are also essential to the region's resident birds.

Jayavignesh Hariharan

Great White Pelicans in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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Adult Great White Pelicans are easily identified by their yellow-orange throat pouch and the pink patch around their eyes. Unlike the adults, juveniles display brown plumage overall.

Bibhas Deb

Spotted Owlet chicks seen in Bharatpur
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The typical clutch size among Spotted Owlets is two. Sometimes the number can go up to four. Found throughout the Indian subcontinent, they prefer tree cavities to build nests during the breeding season.

Samyak Kaninde

Jungle Cat spotted in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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Although Jungle Cats prefer densely vegetated areas near water bodies, they are known to adapt to a range of habitats.

Ritobroto Moitra

Golden Jackal seen in Bharatpur
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Golden Jackals are found in family units that hunt, forage and rest together. They are highly adaptable and are seen in a variety of habitats.

Sangram Govardhane

Striped Hyena seen in Keoladeo Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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The Striped Hyena is the only true hyena species found in India. They belong to a family of their own—Hyaenidae, and are found in arid regions, shrublands and woodlands.

Shantanu Ambulgekar

Male Bluebulls or Nilgai fighting
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Male Nilgais engage in fights during the mating season to establish their dominance. Along with charging their opponents, the antelopes also hold their heads up, displaying their enlarged chests and throat patches.

Mayur Desale

Shikra raptor with a bird kill
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Shikras feed on birds, reptiles, rodents and insects. They use their talons and hooked beaks to tear up their prey before consuming. Pictured here is a Shikra with its kill, possibly a coot.

Shubhankar Dey

Indian Roofed Turtle seen in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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The Indian Roofed Turtle owes its name to its roof-like shell. The chelonian prefers stagnant water bodies and feed on aquatic animals and plants.

Sudhanshu Tiwari

Oriental Darter with a fish catch in Bharatpur
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The Oriental Darter is also known as the Snakebird, owing to its long, slender neck. Most of the time, they remain submerged underwater, with just their neck visible above the surface.

Sundeep Kumar

Intermediate Egret and Oriental Darter fight for food in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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An Intermediate Egret and an Oriental Darter engage in a food fight. Apart from fish, the egret feeds on crustaceans, insects and frogs.

Anupam Thombre

Grey Heron and Oriental Darter fighting
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In the avian community, it is common to see instances of them stealing food from one another. Here, a Grey Heron tries to pry away the catch of an Oriental Darter.

Aniket Thopate

Golden Jackal with Sambar Deer kill in Bharatpur
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Golden Jackals are opportunistic feeders and feed on birds, eggs, rodents, insects, amphibians and fruits. Occasionally, they even feed on carrion. The image shows a jackal approaching a Sambar Deer kill.

Droneshwar Jaiswal

Spotted Deer Chital in Keoladeo Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary
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Also known as the Chital, Spotted Deer inhabit a range of habitats like savannas, grasslands and forests. They avoid dense forest areas and deserts.

Salil Jain

Dalmatian Pelican in Keoladeo National Park Bharatpur
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Dalmatian Pelicans are social birds, often seen in large flocks. During winter, the bird’s plumage loses its silver-like shine and appears dull grey.

Sandipan Dutta

Sarus Crane in Keoladeo National Park Bharatpur
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During the breeding season, Sarus Crane pairs remain close together and can be seen inhabiting water-abundant regions.