Pokhara
Pashupati Nath Temple
Krishna Mandir

Nepal: National Parks

An Introduction

chitwan4.jpgNepal is a land of extreme contrasts in climate and geography, It has a unique topography ranges from lowlands with sub-tropical jungles to arctic conditions in the Himalayan highlands. Within a mere 150 kilometres the land rises from near sea level in the south to over 8,000 meters in the North. As a result, Nepal has been endowed with a diversity of life zones providing a home for a large variety of plants, birds and animals.

The Terai lowlands are defined by a belt of well-watered flood plains stretching from Indian border northward to the first slopes of the 'Bhabhar' and the Siwalik Range. This is the richest habitat in the land with tall grasslands interspersed with riverine and hardwood Sal forest. Here one can see wildlife such as the swamp deer, musk deer, black buck, blue bull, the Royal Bengal Tiger, Gharial and mugger crocodiles, and the wild buffalo. This area is also rich in birdlife with a variety of Babbles and Orioles, Koels and Drongos, Peacocks and Frolics, and a multitude of winter wildfowl.

There are five protected areas in Nepal, - Koshi Tappu and Parsa in the east, Sukla Phanta and Dhorpatan for hunting in the west and Shivapuri in the mid-mountain region. The Churia, also known as the Siwalik, is the southern most range of the Himalayas. No where do they rise above 1,220 meters. This range is famous for fossil deposits of Pleistocene mammals. Among them 10 species of elephants, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, sabre-toothed cats various antelopes and primates such as the Orang-utan. Situated north of the Churia are broad, low valleys of the inner Terai known as the Doons. These valleys are not unlike the outer plains with tall elephant grass, swamps and ox-bow lakes where the last of the one-homed rhinoceros survive. Royal Chitwan National Park in the Inner Terai of central Nepal is the first and best-protected area in the kingdom. Once one of the most famous big game hunting areas in Asia. Chitwan now offers protection to a large array of mammals such as the one-horned rhinoceros, tiger, leopard, sloth bear and the Gaur (wild bison) as well as more than 400 species of birds.

Higher in the north between 2,000 and 3,500 meters lies the Mahabharat Range with its oak crowned crests. The hills of this midland are covered by a moist temperate forest of Deodar, oak, maple and birch in which are found deer, Ghoral Serow, leopard and monkey, The gorgeous multi-coloured Lmpeyan Pheasant (Nepal's national bird) is also found here with other endangered birds like the koklas and Cheer Pheasants. Protected areas in this zone include Khapted National Park in the Far-West, Dhorpatan Hunting reserve, Northwest of Pokhara and Shivapuri Wildlife Sanctuary near Kathmandu.

Higher still, near the snow line, are the alpine mountain flanks. Snow leopard, Himalayan Tahr, the rarely seen wolf, black and brown bears and lynx are found here. The Sherpas, Manabga, and Dolpa-bas are some of those who farm and graze their livestock on the high mountain pastures. Langtang, Sagarmatha(Everest), Shey-Phoksundo and Rara National Parks are the protected high altitude areas of Nepal.

Royal Bardia National Park

bardiya-national-park.jpgLocation :
Covering an area of 968-sq. km., Royal Bardia National Park is situated in the mid-Far Western Terai, east of the Karnali River.

Seasons : The park's climate is affected by the summer monsoon. The best times to visit are between October and early April when weather is warm and dry. From April onwards the temperatures rise, peaking at around 45degree Celsius. In May pre-monsoon thunderstorms start and continue until late September.

The Park : Royal Bardia National Park is the largest and most undisturbed wilderness area in the Terai, providing excellent habitat for the following endangered species.

Endangered Animals : Rhinoceros, Wild elephant, Tiger, Swamp deer, Black buck, Gharial crocodile, Marsh mugger crocodile, Gangetic dolphins.

Endangered Birds : Bengal Florican, Sliver-eared Mesia, Sarus Crane, and lesser Florican.

More than 30 different mammals, over 250 species of birds and many snakes, lizards and fish have been recorded in the park's forests, grasslands and river habitats. The more commonly seen are:

Mammals : Languor Monkey, Rhesus monkey, Common leopard, Jungle cat, Fishing cat, Large and small Indian civets, Palm civet, Hyena, Wild dog, Jackal, Sloth bear, Otter, Porcupine, Bandicoots, Blue bull (Nilgi), Sambar deer, Hog deer, Barking deer, Wild boar.

Birds : Flycatchers, Babblers, Sun birds, Drongols (7 species), Eurasian thicknee ruddy, Shell duck, Warblers, Bulbuls (5 species), Woodpeckers (10 species), Barbets (4 species), Bee-eaters (4 species), Kingfishers (4 species), Parakeets (4 species), Doves (5 species), Pigeons (3 species), Red-wattled lapwing, Common peafowl, Red jungle fowl, Merganser duck, Black-necked stork, White-necked stork, Painted stork, Egrets (4 species), Herons (5 species), Cormorants.

The Geruwa, a branch of the Karnali River, forms the park's western boundary, while the crest of the Churia range (Siwalik Hills) demarcates the northern limits. Along the southern edge a forest road forms the boundary; in the east the Nepalgunj-Surkhet road forms it. Part of the very scenic Babair River valley is includes within the park. The approximately 1500 people who lived in this valley have been resettled else where in Bardia District. Since agriculture creased in the Babai valley, the regeneration of natural vegetation is increasing rapidly, making it an area of prime habitat for wildlife.

About 70% of the park are covered with dominantly sal (Shorea robusta) forest with the balance of mixture of grassland, savanna and riverine forest. The altitudes vary from 152 meters on the Terai 1441 meters at Sukarmala on the crest of the Churia range.