Pitter-Patter at Wildlife SOS: How Animals Adapt To Monsoon

August 25, 2023 | By Shavya Arora
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Much like humans, animals share a love-hate relationship with the monsoon as well. While we make sure to take out our umbrellas and plan our days according to the weather forecast, how do animals get ready to tackle the rain? A cloudy day tempts us to indulge in pakoras (fritters) during the rain, but have you ever wondered what animals like to eat when it pours? Different animals react to the monsoon season in their own way. Some are highly fond of it, some prefer to sleep, and some others are simply indifferent to pitter-patter. This rainy season let’s look at under which of these categories the animals across Wildlife SOS centres fit! 

Ecstatic Elephants

The sudden downpour instinctively makes humans seek shelter. Elephants have their sheds at our centres to run towards, but that’s not where they head for. So, what do they do? Elephants are known to love two things– swimming and playing in wet mud. The rainwater when mixed with dirt combines to form a natural scrub for elephants that helps them exfoliate their bodies and scratch all the itchy spots. They rub this muddy blend against their fellow elephant’s body as well and play with it for long hours! For most pachyderms, rain is all about fun and squeals! 

At the Elephant Conservation and Care Centre (ECCC), elephants exhibit varying levels of excitement for the rains. For instance, Chanchal and Bijli prefer to seek shade when it starts to pour heavily, whereas Laxmi from their group continues to trumpet enthusiastically. Phoolkali is also seen being immensely delighted during the rains and it is never too easy to guide her towards the shelter from the open field. We have also noticed a striking change in the elephants’ energy levels during this season: with added greenery around them, they get to forage and savour a vast variety of plants. 

Nina relishes the freshest flavours of greens that the monsoon brings. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Lazy Leopards 

While elephants don’t mind day-long rainfall, leopards prefer to relax and sit under a shelter. They always seek shade to avoid getting wet. However, even as it rains, a wild leopard’s instinctive behaviour to hunt remains unaffected. No matter how challenging the situation is, leopards uphold their identity as skilled hunters. Such inherent attributes have inspired the famous proverb “The rain wets the leopard’s spots but does not wash them off”, which means that it is hard to change the true characteristics of an individual. 

As humans, the sound of rain calms us, and we find time to pause and unwind. Similarly, leopards rest comfortably and are not as active as they usually are. During a torrential downpour, Aditi, one of our leopards at the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre (MLRC), is quick to take cover in the dense vegetation, where she settles in the embrace of the trees.

Aditi makes her way to find shade as the rain picks up pace at MLRC. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

Blissful Bear

For the bears, monsoon bring an abundance of opportunities. In Jammu and Kashmir, rainfall revives vegetation, where various insects and small animals gather and multiply. These bugs become attractive meals for the Himalayan brown bears found here. Brown bears scratch ruined, wet branches of trees to find insects to snack on. As the rain eventually subsides, these bears retreat to their dens or find a cosy spot to rest. Black bears, on the other hand, are mostly found outside in the open. 

Julie, a black bear from Dachigam Rescue Centre, is the first one to come out of her den when it begins to rain [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Suryoday Singh Mann]

Sloth bears prefer to go back into their sheltered dens and not come out until it stops raining. At the Agra Bear Rescue Facility (ABRF), Rose and Bintha choose to hide while Elvis would be seen roaming outside in the field. Elvis, however, is known to welcome all seasons with equal excitement — be it winters, summers or monsoons! 

Bears in monsoon
At ABRF, Elvis joyfully welcomes all seasons! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Shresatha Pachori]

The monsoon season brings forth a display of diverse reactions from the animals at Wildlife SOS centres. While elephants enjoy the rejuvenating downpours, using them as opportunities for play and bonding, leopards adopt a more reserved approach during rainfall. Bears portray an array of moods: some have fun in the rain, some rest inside their den in the serene landscape. Amidst the rhythmic dance of raindrops, other animals also show unique behaviors’. Birds take flight through the misty skies; reptiles bask in the newfound moisture. Each species paints their own stroke during monsoon. Witnessing these reminds us that just like humans, every animal responds to monsoon in their own unique way.

This year, heavy downpours resulted in unexpected flooding in various regions across the country. Wildlife SOS Rapid Response Units have been responding to calls on our 24X7 helplines about animals caught in distress. To support us in our efforts to save wildlife from unfortunate situations, consider making a donation

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