Nepal is a land of extreme contrasts both in climate and geography. Its unique topography ranges from lowlands with sub-tropical jungles to arctic conditions in the Himalayan highlands. Within a mere 150 kilometers the land rises from near sea level in the South to over 8,000 meters in the North. This, together with the monsoons along the south facing slopes, has resulted in compacting virtually all climate zones found on planet Earth. As a result, Nepal has been endowed with a great diversity of life-zones providing a home for a large variety of fauna and flora and of course a large variety of animals.
The Terai lowlands are defined by a belt of well-watered floodplains stretching from the 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. A variety of wildlife such as the swamp deer, musk deer, black buck, blue bull, the royal Bengal tiger, gharial and mugger crocodiles, and the last of a breed of Asiatic wild buffalo can be spotted in this region. Here one can hear a variety of birdsong thanks to the variety of the winged species found here such as babbles and orioles, koels and drongos, peacocks and floricans, and a multitude of wintering 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. 1,220 meters is the maximum that any peak here can rise to. No further. This range is famous for fossil deposits of Pleistocene mammals, among them 10 species of elephants, 6 rhinoceros, hippopotamus, saber-toothed cats, various antelopes and primates such as the orang-utan, long extinct in the subcontinent. 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-horned rhinoceros survive. Royal Chitwan National Park in the inner Terai of central Nepal is the first and best protected area in the kingdom. 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 great epic Mahabharat seems to have an influence even across the borders. 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-colored Impeyan 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 Khaptad National Park in the far-west, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, northwest of Pokhara and Shivapuri Wildlife Sanctuary near Kathmandu.
Higher still, nearer the snowline, are the alpine mountain flanks which is where the snow leopard seems to have made its home and which preys on blue sheep and the Himalayan tahr. Rarely seen are the wolf, black and brown bears and lynx. 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. His Majesty's Government of Nepal has set aside more than 13,000 sq.kms of protected areas that include as many bio geographic regions as possible to assure conservation of the maximum numbers of wildlife species. These nature sanctuaries attract wildlife enthusiasts and tourists from the world over, and each park and reserve has its own attraction. Come let's discover the uniqueness of each of these parks.
National Park Information
Now Nepal inspite of its size, surprisingly has a large area under protection as either hunting game reserves or national parks. There are more than a dozen that one could visit, and they are perfect for camping out at, trekking or just for checking out the fauna and flora of the parks.
- Langtang National Park
- Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park
- Dhorapatan Hunting Reserve
- Royal Chitwan National Park
- Royal Bardia National Park
- Royal Suklaphant Wildlife Reserve
- Mustang Conservation Area
- Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
- Shey-Phoksundo National Park
- Parsa Wildlife Reserve
- Rara National Park
- Khaptad (Baba) Nationl Park
- Makalu-Barun National Park
- The Annapurna Conservation Project