Nepal is a country of exceptional biodiversity and a beautiful natural environment due to three different belts i.e Mountains, Hills and Plain. The tropical jungles of the Terai preserve some of the best wildlife habitat in the subcontinent, if not the world. Nepal has 12 national parks, 1 wildlife reserve and 6 conservation areas, occupying 22.93% percent of its total geographical area. Nepal offers scenic views of some of the rarest and most endangered wild-lives on earth in their natural habitats like Alpine forest, Savannah, Tropical forest and Grasslands. Nepal has 185 species of mammals in various parts of the country. Nepal has more than 850 recorded species of birds. This is 8% of all birds in the world. Amazingly, half of these birds can be seen in and around the Kathmandu valley alone. Spiny babbler is only found in Nepal which was thought to be extinct.
Plain (Terai region) consist of exotic wildlife such as Bengal Tigers, Greater One-horned Rhinos, Asiatic Elephants, Sloth bears, Water Buffaloes, Leopards, Monkeys & Gharials. In Narayani and Karnali rivers, Ganges dolphins can be found.
Hills consist of wildlives like Red Pandas, Clouded Leopards & Himalayan Black Bears. Mountains have one of the most elusive cats of all, Snow Leopards, and herbivores like Blue sheep, Musk deer & Himalayan Tahr.
Nepal achieved zero poaching for Tigers, Rhinos and Elephants in several years recently, demonstrating its seriousness to protect the wildlives. For those who wish to experience the natural safari at its best there is no better place than Nepal.
Below are some of the famous National Parks of Nepal:
Chitwan National Park
A UNESCO world heritage site, Chitwan National Park was established in 1973. The park is the first and only one out of two parks in the world to be accredited with Conservation Assured Tiger Standard in 2015, demonstrating its excellence in tiger conservation and protection. The park covers a pristine area of 932 sq km and is situated in the subtropical inner Terai region of central Nepal. With adjacent Parsa wildlife reserve of 637.37 sq km, the coherent protected area is one of the biggest protected tiger areas in the world.
Chitwan National Park is characterized by tropical to subtropical forest. The park’s vegetation is Sal forest, with Grassland & Riverine forest. The grasslands form a diverse and complex community with over 50 species. The Sacchrum species, often called elephant-grass can reach 8 m in height.
There are more than 43 species of mammals in the park. The park is home to exotic mammals like Bengal Tigers, Greater One Horned Rhinos, Asiatic Elephants, Sloth bears, Gaurs, Four Horned Antelopes, Common Leopards, Hyenas, Pangolins & Gangetic Dolphins. Some of the other animals found in the park are Samber, Chital, Hog deer, Barking deer, palm civet, Wild Dogs, Langurs and Rhesus monkeys.
There are over staggering 450 species of birds in the park. Among the endangered birds found in the park are Bengal florican, Giant Hornbill, Lesser florican, Black stork and White stork. Common birds seen are Peafowl, Red jungle fowl, and different species of Egrets, Herons, Kingfishers, Flycatchers and Woodpeckers. The best time for bird watching is March and December.
More than 45 species of amphibians and reptiles occur in the park and some of which are Marsh mugger crocodile, Gharials, Cobra, Green pit viper, Burmese pythons and various species of frogs and tortoises.
Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park is the largest and least-disturbed wilderness area in Terai region of west Nepal. It is a must visit place for Tiger lovers as chances of seeing them are highest here. It was established in 1988 and it covers 968 sq km. It provides an outstanding habitat for over 30 different mammal species, including Bengal Tiger, Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Asiatic Elephants, Sloth bears, Swamp deers, Black bucks, Langur and Rhesus monkeys. Together with the neighbouring Banke National Park, the coherent protected area of 1,437 sq km represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Bardia-Banke that extends over 2,231 sq km of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests
Karnali river forms the western boundary of the park. The endangered Gangetic dolphins are often seen in its waters. Other endangered riverine species include the fish-eating Gharials and Marsh mugger crocodiles.
Over 250 species of birds have so far been recorded in the park, including the endangered Bengal and Lesser Floricans, Silver-eared Mesia, and the Sarus crane.
Shuklaphanta National Park
Shuklaphanta National is a paradise located in west Nepal that protects the biggest population of swamp deer in the world. The park was first established as hunting reserve in 1969 then gazetted to become Wildlife reserve in 1976. The status from wildlife reserve changed to National Park in late 2016. The park is 305 sq km and is open grasslands and numerous waterholes with Sal forest and marsh vegetation. It is one of the least disturbed area in the Terai region and get less tourists than any other National parks. The park also protects Bengal tigers, Greater One-horned Rhinos, Asiatic elephants, Sloth bears, Common Leopards, Jackals, Langurs and Rhesus monkeys, blue bulls, barking deer, hog deers and wild boars to name a few.
Among birds the park provides habitat to Sarus crane, Swamp francolin, Grass owl, Warblers, Flycatchers and the endangered Bengal Florican. Reptile species include Marsh mugger Crocodiles, Cobras and Pythons.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is a bird watcher’s paradise where rare species such as swamp francolin, Bengal florican and Sarus crane can be spotted. Koshi Tappu is among the subcontinent’s most important wetlands and thanks to its location just downstream from one of the few breaches in the Himalayan barrier, it’s an internationally important area for waterfowl and waders. Migratory species from Siberia and Tibet take up residence from November to February. It is also the last habitat of wild water buffaloes. It is home to at least 518 species of birds,
This reserve was established in 1976 and designated Ramsar site in 1987. It covers 175 sq km and lies in Terai region of east Nepal. It comprises extensive mudflats, reed beds, and freshwater marshes in the floodplain of the Sapta Kosi River, and ranges in altitude from 75 to 81 m.
The 31 species of mammals recorded include the Asian elephants, Spotted deers, Hog deers, Wild pigs, smooth-coated Otters and Golden Jackals. The Ganges river dolphin has been sighted in the Koshi River.
Dobato Protected Forest
Dobato protected forest is located in Ilam in the foothill of the Himalayas. This place is a strong hold of Red pandas. If you want to track Red pandas and see many species of birds, with sight of Mt Kanchenjunga, this protected area is for you. This area is also famous for special birds like Fire-tailed Myzornis, Maroon-backed Accentor, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Slender-billed, Scimitar Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Rufous-capped Babbler and eight species of laughing-thrush, to name a few. Other mammals in this place include Clouded Leopards, Leopard cats, Himalayan Palm Civets.