National Praks, Wildlife Reserve and Conservation area

Nepal can be divided into three areas, the high mountains, mid hills and low lands. The climate in these areas is different as well, having an arctic climate in the high mountains, the low lands and thus more or less the south of Nepal have a tropical climate. In these subtropical jungles three wildlife reserves, popular and open for tourists, can be found.

Nepal is a blend of nature and human efforts. That is why it has around 18% of its land as protected area – either known as National parks or Wildlife reserves or Conservation areas.

Eight national parks, four wildlife reserves, three conservation areas and a hunting reserve – just within the area of 147181 square kilometers of the country. And it’s not just the land coverage; it has a unique topography ranging 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 monsoon rainfall 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 plants, birds and animals.

The real good news for the visitors is that it is this multiplicity of topography, climate and ecosystem that host the different protected areas across the country. In other words, you will find the conserved areas in all three Nepalese geographical regions – the Terai, Hills and the Himalayan region.

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. Here one can see wildlife such as the swamp deer, musk deer, black buck, blue bull, the Bengal tiger, gharial and mugger crocodiles, and the last of a breed of Asiatic wild buffalo. This area is also rich in birdlike with a variety of 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 Himalaya. 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, 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 know 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, Chitwan National Park in the Inner Terai of central Nepal is the first and best protected area s in the country. 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-colored 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, there are protected areas like the Sagarmatha National park declared as a natural site by the UNESCO. With the towering Himalayas in the north, these areas are the alpine mountain flanks inhabiting endangered species like the snow leopard. These rare species prey on blue sheep and the Himalayan tahrs, rarely seen are the wolf, black and brown bears and lynx.

Besides the natural attraction, even this remote region has on offer the cultural and ethnic varieties. The Sherpas, Manabga, and Dolpa-bas are some of those who farm and graze their livestock on the high mountain pastures. Their festival and rituals are certainly the tourism jewels in perfect harmony with the natural beauty they have around them. Langtang, Sagarmatha (Everest). Shey-Phoksundo and Rara National Parks are the protected high altitude areas of Nepal.

The best time to visit the high altitude Himalayan parks is between October and November. The winter months, between December and February, attracts large numbers of visitors to the lowland parks including Koshi Tappu, Parsa, Chitwan, Bardia and Shukla Phanta. This is also a good time to observe wintering birds, including wildfowls and waders. From March to May, it is warm at lower altitudes and cool above 3000m. This is also an ideal time to visit high altitude nature sanctuaries like Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Rara, Khaptad, Shivapuri, Makalu-Barun and Dhorpatan.

National park

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park (RCNP) has long been one of the country’s treasures of natural wonders. The park is situated in south central Nepal, covering 932 sq. km. in the subtropical lowlands of the inner Terai. The area comprising the Tikauli forest – from Rapti River to the foothills of the Mahabharat – extending over an area of 175 sq. km. was declared Mahendra Mriga Kunj (Mahendra Deer Park) by the late King Mahendra in 1959. In 1963, the area south of Rapti River was demarcated as a rhinoceros sanctuary. The area was gazette as the country’s first national park in 1973. Recognizing its unique ecosystems of international significance, UNESCO declared RCNP a World Heritage Site in 1984.
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Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park is the largest park in the lowland Terai covering an area of 968 sq. km. The park situated in Nepal’s Western Terai was established to protect representative ecosystems and conserve tiger and its prey species. Initially, a small area was gazette as the Karnali Wildlife Reserve in 1976. When this area was protected, approximately 1500 people of the Babai valley were resettled outside the park allowing the vegetation and wildlife to flourish. In 1982, it was renamed as Bardia Wildlife Reserve, and in 1984 it was extended to its current size. The reserve was given the status of a National Park in 1988. Greater One-horned Rhinoceros were Trans located from Chitwan National Park in 1986, 1991, and 1999.

Sagarmatha National Park
Sagarmatha National Park lies to the northeast of Kathmandu. The park was gazette in July 1976. It covers an area of 1,148 sq. km. of Himalayan ecological zone. The park includes the upper catchments areas of the Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi Rivers. The park is largely composed of the rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas ranging from 2,845m at Monju to the top of the world, Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) at 8,848m above sea level. Other peaks above 6,000m are Lhotse, Cho-Oyu, Thamserku, Nuptse, Amadablam, and Pumori. The famed Sherpa people, whose lives are interwoven with the teachings of Buddhism, live in the region.

Khaptad National Park
Khaptad National Park is situated in the mid mountain region of Far-Western Nepal. The park was gazette in 1984 covering an area of 225 sq. km. The proposed area of buffer zone is 216 sq. km. The vegetation of the park varies from sub-tropical in the lower altitudes to temperate forest with grasslands on the Khaptad plateau. The common tree species are rhododendron, chir pine, spruce, fir, maple, birch and alder. Dense stands of bamboo (nigalo), prairie flowers, and a variety of medicinal herbs occur inside the park.

The common mammals of the park are Leopard, Musk Deer, Goral, Yellow-Throated Marten, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan Tahr and Langur monkey. The common bird species include Impeyan pheasant (Danphe), Chukor, Partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Monal, red and Yellow-billed Blue Magpie and Himalayan Griffin. A variety of colorful butterflies, moths and insects are also found here.

The core area of the park is an important religious site. The park is home to the Ashram of Khaptad Swami, a renowned spiritual saint, along with other religious areas and temples. The best way to reach the park area is to fly from Nepalgunj to Dipayal and the local buses are available from Silgadhi, Doti. From Silgadhi Bazzar one has to hike 6 hours to the park entrance and another 7-8 hours to the Park Headquarters. Other options are-flight to Dipayal followed by a three-day walk, or flight to Achham or Bajhang followed by a two-day walk, or flight to Bajura followed by a four-day walk. However, Dipayal and Accham airport are rarely open.

Rara National park
Rara National Park is located in the North-Westem high mountains of Nepal. The park was gazetted in 1976 to conserve the unique beauty of Lake Rara, and to protect the representative flora and fauna of the Humla-Jumla region. The park is Nepal’s smallest protected area; comprising an area of 106 sq. km. but, containing the country’s biggest lake (10.8 sq. km.) at an elevation of 2,990m. The park’s elevation ranges from 2,800m to 4,039m. There were two villages Rara and Chhapru within the park. The residents of the two villages were resettled in Banke district, outside the park.

The forests are mostly composed of coniferous trees. The area around the lake is dominated by blue pine, black juniper, and West Himalayan spruce, oak and Himalayan cypress. At about 3350m, pine and spruce give way to fir, oak and birch trees. Deciduous tree species like Indian horse chestnut, walnut and Himalayan popular are also found. A small portion of the park serves as an ideal habitat for the endangered musk deer. Other animals found in the park include Himalayan black bear, leopard, goral, Himalayan tahr and wild boar. Snow trout is the only fish species recorded in the lake. Resident Gallinaceous birds and migrant waterfowl are found at the lake. The great-crested grebe, black-necked grebe and red-crested pochard are seen during the winter. Other common birds are the snow cock, chukor partridge, Impeyan pheasant (Danphe), kalij pheasant and blood pheasant.

Rara National Park is 2.5 days trek via Jumala or 10 days trek from Surkhet.

Shey Phoksundo National Park
Shey-phoksundo Narional Park is situated in the Trans-Himalayan region of northwest Nepal. It is Nepal’s largest National Park covering an area of 3,555 km and contains the highest lake, Lake Phoksundo. It was established in 1984 to preserve a unique Trans-Himalayan ecosystem with a diversity of flora and fauna. The Park’s climatic differences, altitude variations, and different zoo-geographical regions support a diverse range of biotic systems.

In 1998, an area of 1349 km2 surrounding the park was declared as buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands. The buffer zone is jointly managed by the park and local communities. Together they initiate community development activities and manage the natural and cultural resources. The park contains luxuriant forests mainly composed of blue pine, spruce, cypress, poplar, fir and birch. The Jugdual River valley consists mostly of Quercus (oak) species. The trans-Himalayan area has near-desert type vegetation consisting of dwarf juniper and caragana shrubs.

The park provides prime habitat for the endangered snow leopard and the blue sheep. Other common animals found in the park include goral, Himalayan tahr, serow, leopard, wolf, jackal, Himalayan black bear, Himalayan weasel, Himalayan mouse hare, yellow-throated marten, langur and rhesus monkey. The park is equally rich in many species of birds such as Impeyan pheasant (Danphe), blood pheasant, cheer pheasant, red and yellow billed cough, rave, jungle crow and snow partridge. Individual trekking is permitted to trek to Ringmo or Phoksundo Lake. The Tran-Himalayan region of inner Dolpa is restricted to group trekking only; a group trekking permit is needed and can be arranged by us.

Langtang National Park
It was established in 1976 to conserve the unique flora and fauna of the region. It is the nearest national park of the capital Kathmandu in the Central Himalayan Region about 32 Km (20 miles) north of Kathmandu. The 1710 sq. km. of the park extends over parts of Nuwakot, Rasuwa, and Sindhupalchok districts in the southern mountainous terrain of the Nepal-China (Tibet) border. In 1998 an areas of 420 sq km in and around the park declare as a buffer zone. The park represents a meeting point between indo-Malayan and Palearctic realms, and holds a rich biodiversity.

Buffer zone management is a joint venture between the park office and the local communities. Local communities have a decision-making role in the management of such areas. Additionally, the local communities or the buffer zone receive 30 to 50 % of the park revenue for the better management of natural resources to ensure a sustainable supply of resources and community development. This park consists of the beautiful Langtang Valley, and several high altitude glacial lakes. One of the famous lakes is Gosainkunda, which is a sacred lake for Hindu pilgrims. People from the plains come every year to bathe in this icy cold lake in August. This park also includes more than 40 villages

Shivapuri National Park (Area 144 sq. kms)
Shivapuri National Park {144 sq km) is situated on the northern fringe of Kathmandu valley and lies about 12 km away from the center of capital city. The area was gazette as the country’s ninth national park in 2002. Prior its declaration as national park, it was managed under the Shivapuri Watershed Development Board, and was later declared as Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve. It lies in a transition zone between subtropical and temperate climates. The vegetation consists of a variety of natural forest types including pine, oak, rhododendron etc, depending on altitude and aspect. Recorded wildlife in the park includes mammalian species such as Himalayan Black bear, leopard, jungle cat, and rhesus monkey. The park is also home to 177 species of birds, including at least 9 threatened species, 102 species of butterflies with a number of rare and endangered species, and 129 species of mushroom.

The park is easily accessible from Kathmandu. Visitors are attracted to the park for trekking. Trekking routes to Nagarkot, Gosaikunda, Helambu and Langtang National Park also pass through the park. Several religious sites for the Hindus and the Buddhists lie inside the park. On Nepalese New Year’s Day, which falls in mid-April, pilgrims from Kathmandu valley and neighboring areas flock to Baghdwar and Bishnudwar of the park from where the sacred rivers Bagmati and Bishnumatii originate. Visitors can have breathtaking views of the high Himalayas from the northern aspects of the park. Likewise, the panoramic views of Kathmandu valley could be seen from the southern slopes of the park,

Makalu-Barun National Park and Convervation Area:
Makalu Barun National Park and Buffer zone area (previously conservation area) was established in 1992. This national park lies in the wilderness at the eastern border of Mt. Everest National Park and is more remote. Its altitude ranges from 1,000 m to more than 8,000 m. This park contains four of the five highest mountains in the world. Most of the northern part of this park includes dense forests, valleys of the Barun River, great waterfalls and deep gorges. It contains more than 3,000 flowering plants. Also about 67 species of medicinal plants and aromatic plants are to be found here. This park is the home of more than 50 species of animals and 400 species of birds.

Wildlife Reserve

Koshi Tapu Wildlife Reserve
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is situated on the flood plains of the Sapta-Koshi River in Eastern Nepal. The reserve was gazette in 1976 to preserve habitat for the only remaining population of Wild buffalo, Arna (Bubalus arnee). The 176 sq. km. reserve is Nepal’s smallest wildlife reserve. The eastern and western embankments of the Sapta Koshi River define the area. In 1987, Koshi Tappu was declared a Ramsar site, a wetland of international significance. It is home to more than 441 bird species including 20 duck species, 2 species of ibises, white tailed stonechat, striated marsh warbler, 30 shore birds, 114 water birds, and the endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican. The Koshi Barrage is an extremely important resting place for many migratory birds, containing 87 winter and trans-Himalayan migratory species.

The Koshi River is home to 80 species of fish. The endangered Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin have been recorded in the river as well. The last surviving population of wild buffalo or Arna is found here. The reserve is also home to many types of mammals such as hog deer, spotted deer, wild boar and blue bull. The vegetation mainly includes tall khar-pater grasslands with a few patches of khair-sissoo scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest. During the monsoon, the reserve is flooded with depths ranging from 10 to 300 cm. From season to season the Sapta-Koshi River changes its course.

Parsa Wildlife Reserve
Parsa Wildlife Reserve is situated in the lowland Terai of Nepal adjoining Chitwan National Park in the west. The 499 sq. km of pristine sub-tropical jungle makes Parsa Nepal’s largest wildlife reserve. This area once served as a vacation site for the Rana Rulers of the country. In 1984, it was gazette as a wildlife reserve to preserve the habitat for wild Asian elephant, and a variety of other fauna- It is contiguous with Chitwan National Park in the west.

The reserve has a sub-tropical monsoon climate. The dominant landscape of the reserve is the Churiya hills ranging from 750m to 950m, east to west. In the Churiya hills, chir pine grows along the rivers and streams. Sabai grass, a commercially important species, grows well along the southern face of the Churiya hills. The forests of the reserve consist of tropical and subtropical vegetation with sal trees comprising 90% of it. Other trees found are khair, sissoo and the silk cotton tree.

The reserve supports a good population of the wild elephant, tiger, leopard, sloth bear, gaur, blue bull and wild dog. Other common animals are sambar deer, chital deer, hog deer, barking deer, langur monkey, striped hyena, ratel, palm civet and jungle cat. Many species of snakes are found in the reserve due to its tropical climate. The species include king cobra, common cobra, krait, rat snake and the python. There are about 300 species of birds found in the reserve. Some of the common ones include giant hornbill, peafowl, red jungle fowl, flycatchers and woodpeckers.

Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve is situated in the southern Terai of Far-Western Nepal and was gazette as a Wildlife Reserve in 1976, covering an area of 305 sq. km. The reserve shares a common boundary with the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in the south and west which is formed by the Mahakali (Sarda), River, and a major tributary of the Ganges. It is bordered on the eastern side by the Chaudhar River and to the north by a forest belt and cultivations. A total of 24 mammal species was recorded by Schaff (1978), a total of 350 species of birds of which 180 are breeding species (In skip, 1989), Bhatt and Shrestha (1977) provide an annotated list of 14 species of fish, Schaaf (1978) recorded 10 species of eco parasites and biting flies.

Although the area of the Reserve is small, it supports a wide range of biodiversity which is nationally and globally important. The vegetation types primarily include sal forest, sal savanna, which is part of continuum between climax forest and grassland that is maintained by fire and floods. The reserve provides prime habitat for swamp deer, with an estimated population of 2000 found here. Other animals in the reserve are wild elephant, tiger, hispid hare, blue bull, leopard, chital, hog deer and wild boar. Many grassland birds along with the endangered Bengal florican can be seen in the phantas. Marsh mugger, Indian python, monitor lizard, cobra, krait and rat snake are recorded here.

Hunting Reserve

Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve adjoins Rukum, Myagdi and Baglung districts in the Dhaulagiri Himal range in West Nepal. Putha, Churen and Gurja Himal extend over the northern boundary of the reserve. Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve was established in 1983 and was gazetted in 1987. Management objectives of the reserve allow sports hunting and preserve a representative high altitude, ecosystem in Western Nepal. The reserve extends over an area of 1325 sq. km and is the only hunting reserve in the country to meet the needs of hunting for Nepalese and foreign hunters of blue sheep and other game animals. The reserve is divided into six blocks for hunting management purposes. The reserve’s elevation ranges from 2,850m to more than 7,000m. The reserve is characterized by alpine, sub-alpine and high temperate vegetation. Common plant species include fir, pine, birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce. Pasturelands at higher elevations occupy more than 50% of the total reserve area.

The hunting reserve is one of the prime habitats for blue sheep, a coveted trophy. Other animals found include leopard, goral, serow, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, wild boar, rhesus macaque, langur monkey and mouse hare. Endangered animals in the reserve include musk deer, wolf and red panda. The bird species found within the reserve is rich in diversity including several endangered species of pheasants and partridges. Impeyan pheasant, cheer pheasant, Satyr Trapopan, and Himalayan pied woodpecker are also found here.

Conservation Areas

Annapurna Conservation Area
The Annapurna Conservation (ACA) is spread over 7,629 sq. km. of Kaski, Myagdi, Parbat and Manang districts in northwest Nepal. Established in 1986, the conservation area is surrounded by high mountains and deep valleys. A mosaic of ethnic groups has carved lifestyle out of its steep terraces and barren plateaus. The conservation area is also home to 1,226 species of plants, 38 species of orchids, 9 species of Rhododendrons, 101 species of mammals, 478 species of birds, 39 species reptiles and 22 species of amphibians.

Annapurna Conservation Area is a major trekking destination in Nepal. More than 40,000 tourists annually visit the conservation area. Ghandruk and Lwang are typical Gurung villages with scenic splendours. The National Trust for Nature Conservation, a leading non-profit and non-governmental environmental organization in Nepal, launched the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in 1986. ACAP’s grassroots philosophy involves local people in all aspects on conservation and development. The project aims to improve the socio-economic condition of the local people by integrating conservation and development. It encourages local people’s participatory involvement in the management of natural resources and community development activities.

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area
Kanchanjunga Conservation Area (KCA) spread over 2035 sq. km. in Taplejung district, lies in the northeast corner of Nepal. It is named after Mt. Kanchenjunga (8,586m) – second highest mountain in Nepal and the third highest in the world. Taplejung district is also renowned for high peaks (eleven peaks higher that 7,000 m) and glaciers. The conservation area with unique mountain ecosystems is envisioned as a tri-national peace park with Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China to the north and Sikkim, India, in the east. Sikkim already has Khangchenzonga National Park adjoining Kanchenjunga Conservation Area whereas the extension of Qomolungma Nature Reserve in TAR, to cover the land bordering Kanchenjunga Conservation Area, is in progress. In April 1997, Government of Nepal declared Kanchenjunga region as a Gift to the Earth as part of WWF’s Living Planet Campaign 2000. Kanchenjunga was designated as a conservation area in March 1998.

Kanchenjunga Conservation Area is a home to wildlife species such as snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan black bear, goral, blue sheep, serow and common leopard. Himalayan larch and extensive juniper forests found here are unique to this part of Nepal.

The region has a mosaic of ethnic groups. The religious sites (temples and monasteries) in the area attest to Kanchenjunga’s rich cultural heritage. Local people combine agriculture, pastoralism and trade to subsist.

Manaslu Conservation Area
Manaslu was declared a “Conservation Area” in December 1998 by Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of Nepal. It covers an area of 1663 sq. km. The region harbors a mosaic of habitats for 33 species of mammals, 110 species of birds, 11 species of butterflies and 3 species of reptiles. There are approx 2000 species of plants, 11 types of forests and over 50 species on useful plants. The bio-climatic zones vary from sub-tropical to Nival. The altitude rises from a mere 600m. to the summit of Mt. Manaslu (8,163), the eighth highest peak in the world. The vegetation of the area can be divided into three main categories, based mainly on the altitude, viz. Low hill, Middle mountain and High mountain types. Each category has its own types of dominant forests and other associated species. The types of vegetation, however, tend to overlap the adjoining ones at places especially in relation to aspect and micro-climate. While the forest types are quite distinct, the underlying as well as adjoining flora in different forest types does not vary so sharply.


This is especially true in cases of many NTFPs including medicinal herbs and romatic plants, many of which have a large encountered in different forests types and adjoining vegetation. The presence of 19 types of forests and other forms of dominant vegetation have been recorded from the area. The trek starts from Gorkha, home of the legendary Gorkha soldiers, and follows the meandering Budhi Gandaki River or the Darundi River before reaching Larke Pass (5,106 m.) and crossing over into Manang district of ACAP.


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