This article reflects on one more beautiful yet wild reason to explore the land of Nepal. For all the nature lovers, wildlife photographers, Environmentalists, adventurous and backpackers or any other le traveler out there, Nepal offers many amazing spots to discover the wildlife here. Exploring flora fauna and the natural elements of Nepal will definitely put you in awe. So let us not wait more and start the wild exploration.
National Parks In NepalThe best way to explore wildlife while ensuring personal safety and security is to visit a National Park. Focusing on Nepal, you will find some fascinating national parks that are worth to visit. Not only you will find a good range of local flora and fauna for your wildlife journal but you can even enjoy a picnic with family and friends in these well maintained wildlife parks. Some of the popular names are.
1. Chitwan National Park
2. Bardiya National Park
3. Rara National Park
4. Sagarmatha National Park
5. Langtang National Park
6. Makalu Barun National Park
7. Shivpuri Nagarjun National Park
8. Banke National Park
9. Parsa National Park
10. Shey Phoksundo National Park
11. Shuklaphanta National Park
12. Khaptad National Park
Chitwan National Park
Flora of Chitwan National Park
The Himalayan subtropical climate of this park has influenced the growth of the densely covered forest areas. The major part of the park is covered under the dense canopies of Sal trees. Some lands also grow the Chir Pine trees. The lowlands of the park with the fertile alluvial soil have found the growth of shrubs and fruit trees. The northern plains of the park have a cover of small flowering shrubs and bushes. The grasslands area of the park such as Terai Duar Savanna has 50 different species of grass growing here. World’s tallest grass species are also seen here.
The commonly found flora species are:
- Elephant apple
- Grey downy Balsam
- Rhino apple
- Velvety beautyberry
- Hill glory bower
- Giant cane
- Khagra reed
- Kans grass
Chitwan national park is a home to more than 700 different species of the Arthropods comprising of the colorful butterflies and creepy insects. 19 different species of the Reptilian class including snakes, lizards and crocodiles also glides on the lands of Chitwan national park. Because of the Narayani Rapti River that flows here has more than 113 species of water fauna such as fish, crocodiles and gharials. Among the Mammalia class of Chitwan national park, total of 68 different species are found here. There are more than 543 species of birds have been recorded in the Chitwan national park and hence it has proved itself as a treasure for bird watchers. Many critically endangered and near to threatened species of birds like Oriental Darter, Spotted Eagle, Swamp Francolin, etc. have found a safe home in this park.
The native fauna of Chitwan national park are:
- King Cobra
- Rock Python
- Monitor Lizards
- Starred Tortoise
- Mugger Crocodiles
- Bengal Tiger
- Sloth Bears
- Bengal Foxes
- Striped Hyenas
- One horned Rhinoceros
- Wild Elephant
- Four horned Antelopes
- Rhesus Monkey
- Flying Squirrels
- White throated Kingfisher
- Paradise Flycatcher
- Blossom headed Parakeet
- Bengal Florican
- Spotted Eagle
Area: 952.63 square kilometers
Best time to visit: September till March
Entry Fees: 2000 NPR (for Foreigners)
Things to do:
- Safari ride – Enjoy a Jeep safari ride and spot the royal Bengal Tigers, One horned Rhinoceros and other flora and faunas of the park
- Canoeing – Go for an adventurous yet risky voyage of canoeing in the Terai River full of mugger crocodiles.
- Bird/ Butterfly watching – For a fun filled colorful exploration, opt for the butterfly or bird watching in the forest.
- Gharial breeding center – Visit the nearby gharial breeding center and take some lessons from the guides in the center.
- Photography – Camera freak can click thousands of nature’s poses.
- Camp fire – Enjoy a forest camp fire while the sun goes down leaving you amidst the serene silence of the forest
- Visit to Tharu village – Shake a hand with the local Tharu village folks and have some culture exchange or shake a leg at night on their traditional stick dance and folk songs.
Bardiya National Park
Flora of Bardiya National Park
The flora of Bardiya national park includes grasslands with tall grasses such as elephant grass. It is covered with savannah and riverine forest that provides the ultimate forest exploration. Total of 839 species of flora includes vascular plants, cotyledons and varieties of ferns. The major portion of the land is under the Sal canopy.
Fauna of Bardiya National Park
Being the natural home, it is obvious to spot the royal Bengal tigers and one horned Rhinoceros on the wildlife lands of Nepal. Along with which you can also target the two gentleman Elephants of this park named ‘Raja Gaj’ and ‘Kancha’. Some exotic species like the Bluebull (commonly known as Nilgai) are also found here. Across the forest you will also find many dancing peacocks flaunting their colorful feathers. Because of the nearby waters of the river, you have the advantage to watch creatures like Gangetic dolphins and gharials and local fish species of 125 different species.
The common fauna found in Bardiya national park are:
- Rhesus macaque
- Swamp Deer
- Ghraial Crocodile
- Marsh – Mugger Crocodile
- Bengal Floricans
- Silver Eared Mesia
- Sarus Crane
- White rumped Vulture
- Golden headed Cisticola
- Golden Mahseer
Area: 968 square kilometers
Best time to visit: September to December and February to May.
Note: Though it is hot during the months of March to May, but for the best exploration and to sight maximum species in their natural habitat, these months are preferable to visit.
Entry Fees: 1130 NPR (For foreigners)
Things to do:
- Jeep safari – Book a jeep safari and ride across the park to discover its true wilderness. Meet the royal Bengal tigers, giant elephants and other mammalian creatures on your way.
- River rafting – Wet yourself with some adventure and white waters of the gusty Karnali River and also cherish the Gangetic dolphins playing along your boat - side.
- Bird watching – Nepal known for its rich biodiversity of Birds offers the ultimate bird watching experience in this park. So focus your binoculars and hold on some patience.
- Butterfly watching – Feel the flight wit the colorful wings of large and small sizes and capture the vibrant colors if you can.
- Tea shopping and drinking – The nearby stalls and refreshment centers not only serves you the hot Nepali tea but also offers you a variety of teas to take it home. So a good place to visit for all the tea lovers.
- Local drinks – Enjoy the chilled glasses of Nepal’s local alcoholic drinks made of rice. The rice wine known as Roxi and the rice beer called Chaang are a good treat to go wild in the forest.
- Culture sharing with the local community of Rana Tharu and Dangora is also one of the worthy tourist activity to do here.
Shey Phoksundo National Park
Flora of Shey Phoksundo National Park
A diverse population of the flora is found across Shey Phoksundo national park. As this region experiences the harsh arid climate with least rainfall and extreme winters, the vegetation cover is less than 5% of the total area. Ranging from the Caragana shrubs to white Himalayan birch one will also find trees like silver fir, Pine and Cedar shading over the slopes. There are 286 different species of flora that has been discovered through Ethnobotany.
Endemic floras of Shey Phoksundo national park are:
- White Himalayan Birch
- Silver Fir
- Blue Pine
Fauna of Shey Phoksundo National Park
In total of 29 different species of butterflies will be found here fluttering their colorful wings around you. Among these colorful wings, chances are there that you might spot the highest flying butterfly of the world named Paralasa nepalica. You will also discover the 6 different reptilian species including Lizards, Skinks and Himalayan Pit Viper. Among the Mammalia species, you can spot Snow Leopard, Grey wolves, Jackals, Black Bear and much more. A birds paradise as what they say for Nepal, you will find almost 200 species of Birds flying and chirping in the woods. Many endangered species of fauna has found a safe home on the peaks of Shey Phoksundo national park and are flourishing in their natural habitat.
The fauna of Shey Phoksundo national park includes:
- Snow Leopard
- Himalayan Tahr
- Himalayan Black Bear
- Musk Deer
- Rhesus monkey
- Grey Wolf
- Blue Sheep
- Great Tibetan Sheep
- Himalayan Pit Viper
- Skinks and Lizards
- Wood Snipe
- White Throated Tit
- Wood Accentor
- Tibetan Snow Cock
- Crimson Eared Rosefinch
- Tibetan Partridge
- Paralasa nepalaica
Area: 3555 kilometer square
Best time to visit: April to November
Entry Fees: 2136 NPR (For Foreigners)
Things To Do:
- Trek to the Gompas – Discover the natural architectural building of the Shey monastery and feel the peace of heaven on Earth. You can either opt for a trek over the rough edgy mountains or ride a vehicle along the rocky terrains.
- Helicopter trip – Explore the mountains and national park from up above the sky by renting a helicopter from local tour operators.
- Trek to the Shey Phoksundo Lake – Get on your footsteps and trek to the most beautiful center of the national park. The lake at highest altitude with the opaque blue waters will steal your sight forever. Watch out for the Blue Sheep and Musk Deer along the lake side.
- Visit the glaciers and highest waterfall – Near the Phoksundo lake, you can even sight the 150 meters high waterfall and the crystal clear glaciers.
- Visit to Ringmo village – Explore the nearby tribal Ringmo village and learn about the Tibetan culture and lifestyle
- Visit to Thashung Gompa – Visit the Gompa, especially the 900 years old Thashung Gompa and seek blessings from Lord Buddha.
- Dolpo trek – Along with the animal and bird watching, enjoy a day in the lap of nature, stay in tents and eat traditional Nepali food of the Sherpa community.
Major Wildlife Attractions of NepalIf you are in Nepal for an exposure to the wild kingdom, you must check out on the following listed flora and fauna to make your trip worth visit and memorable.
1. One Horned Rhinoceros
The one horned Rhinoceros is also known as the Indian Rhinoceros. This giant grey structure with hard plate like cover will be seen in most of the plain national parks of Nepal. Rhinos are widely poached for their expensive horn that serves as a status symbol. Government of Nepal along with the collaboration of the Indian and Bhutan Government have taken steps to protect this giant creature. Various safe zones are established such as national parks and sanctuaries and trans – relocation of the rhinos is done for their breed to flourish in natural habitat. You will find the rhinos dwelling and pasturing over the greener patches in the jungle. Along with them you might spot the chubby little baby rhinos mingling around their mommies.
2. Clouded Leopard
Clouded leopard the name is originally a type of wild cat that dwells in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. It has got the name because of its clouded mosaic like skin pattern that masks as sky full of clouds. These cats cum leopards are introverts and like to dwell alone. You will mostly spot them hanging and chilling on the limbs of the trees or lying over the grasses. This species is chosen for the Nepal Clouded Leopard Project under the Friends of Nature organization to protect them and undergo the study. These are highly active during mornings with decreased activity at the end of the day.
3. Indian Elephant
Ruling the jungles of Nepal, Asian or Indian Elephants are highly sociable animal and will accompany you on your wildlife exploration trip. Riding the 5000 kilograms huge animal will surely give you the best experience to explore the national parks (if you do not bother about riding the animals). Elephants in Nepal is not only treated as a friendly being but it also helps the local community in various tasks like travelling, transportation, etc. It is also respected next to Godly creature and is often worshipped in Hindu culture. The local community of Nepal that resides near the jungle area are often seen with elephants as their pets.
4. Royal Bengal Tiger
Royal Bengal tigers have been a topic of discussion almost everywhere. Keeping in mind their near to extinction population, Nepal government has taken crucial steps to save their breed. They are allowed dwelling into their natural habitat and increase in numbers. However, by 2022, the population of the tigers will be almost doubled to past. Due to their minor population, it is difficult to spot them in the national parks. So if you spot one or two, consider yourself lucky. Take pride to witness the brave, fierce animal but make sure to stay safe. And do not forget to capture those black yellow strips roaring at their high.
5. Red Panda
These bamboo eaters with red brown fur will be seen on the slopes of Himalayan forest areas as well as the temperate climate regions of Nepal. It also known as Lesser Panda or the Red Cat Bear. These cute creatures will be seen mostly on the branches curled up into a cozy pose trying to sleep. Inspite of their chubby structure and 6 kilograms of weight, they prove to be amazing climbers. With increased killing of this cute panda, their population has remarkably gone down. They have been listed under the endangered species with only 1000 red pandas in Nepal. To fight against this, Nepal celebrates International Red Panda every year.
6. Himalayan Tahr
The wild goat of Nepal that resides in the Himalayan mountain ranges is also threatened because of its relocation to other countries for hunting and loss of their natural habitat. As the dwell in colder region, they naturally have a furry coating of reddish brown color that sheds of and becomes light during summers. Their identity characteristics are their curvy horns that make them look elegant. They generally roam around and graze in groups and feeds on grass. It is said that they love being photographed. So, don’t forget to click them.
7. Blue Sheep
Commonly known as Naur in Nepalese, these strange looking caprid will be seen on the rocks of Himalayan mountains. These grey colored furry animals have a bluish sheen that is reflected in the sun and hence the name, Blue sheep. These are known for their camouflage feature that allows them to hide on the rocks of the mountains. The color of their body resembles the terrains of Himalayas and they possess the ability to freeze themselves when any threat is sensed. So, one can easily mistake them as a rock. These horny animals seem to have free attitude and are mostly found grazing or strolling on the grass. They are the favorite food to the Leopards.
These fish - eating crocodiles with long narrow snout showcasing the lines of hundreds of sharp teeth along the jawline are found lazying in the fresh water ponds. They are killed to be used for medicinal purpose. Because of their decreasing population they are reared in the breeding centers with utmost care. They are considered as the smart predators as they use techniques to prey the fish. they use their smart senses of jaws and locate the fish by vibrations. Normally you will find these lazy hard - skinned creatures basking in the sun with their snout wide open or soaking themselves in a water bath.
9. Asiatic Rock Python
While you are roaming around in the forests of Nepal, be alert and watch out for the silent rock like snakes. They might have twirled up their body under the shady rocks or might be relaxing on one of the branches of the trees. Their skin color and pattern camouflage as a rock and might fake your eyes to sight it. These are non - venomous snakes with wide head and long body up to 11 feet. Their glittering yellow eyeballs will give the scary look if you dare to look into their eyes. The most interesting fact about this snake is that the mother python loves her babies while they are in the eggshell and cuddles them with its long tail. And they are really very good swimmers.
10. Himalayan Jumping Spider
This dreadful looking black - eyed spider is found under the creeks and rock debris of Himalayas. They like to dwell in cool climate and possess the ability to scare you out by its jumping talent. These creatures are known as the residents that live at highest altitude on Earth. These creepy creatures are known to eat one another when hungry. You can spot one either taking a sunbath when the sun is shinning brightly or else hiding beneath the cool shades of the rocks. These brown colored poisonous spiders, also known as clown spiders, can bite if you tease them. However, their poison cannot effect the humans.
11. Himalayan Monal – national bird of Nepal
The Himalayan Monal or Danphe as it is known in Nepal flaunts proudly as the National bird of Nepal. The velvety feathers of the male Monal with colors like Blue, Red, Purple, Green, White, etc. when shines bright in the sun is a view never to miss. The females are rather dusty brown in color with feathers that lacks shine. Till 1982, the colourful bright feathers of Pheasant were used to decorate the men’s hat. But today the killing of this beautiful bird is prohibited and hence using their feathers is illegal. You can spot these birds in snow clad Himalayas digging the cold ice for worms and roots. It also holds a place in the Nepali folk songs.
12. Spiny Blabber
This endemic bird of Nepal is mostly seen singing in the hills and valleys of Nepal like Kathmandu valley. Typically, spiny blabber is a shy bird and the appearance of this bird is such that its body seems like full of thorns. Hence, it is known as ‘Horny Bird’ in Nepalese language. The male partners sing and play around bushes and shrubs and roam around the females trying to convince them. This is the bird you can only watch for in Nepal.
13. Sarus Crane
The soft white birds with hues of pink and grey is a non – migratory bird found on plains and mountains of Nepal. These are the tallest birds on Earth that can fly. Their tall thin twisted legs give it the elegant and stylish look. Their long broad sac like beak is suitable for gulping up fishes and other sea creatures. The red colored neck denotes their pride when they stand erect. Out of all cranes, the Saras cranes are the most beautiful one in the world. They love to be in the damp marshy lands with a combination of water and land. They love to dance and sing in their high volume like a trumpet. So, keep your eyes and ear open to spot them in Nepal.
14. An army Of Butterflies
Nepal is home to a wide variety of five different types including skippers, nymphalids, whites, blues and swallow tails. With more than 651 species of butterflies, you can surely watch many and even catch a few and get their colors on your fingers. This is the land where you will find the highest flying butterfly on Earth named Paralasa nepalica. With lots of butterfly watching tours offered at various national parks of Nepal, you can have a guided tour that guarantees watching them. Don’t forget your binoculars and speed of vision if you plan to watch these fluttering wings.
Nepal has good news for all the Botanists and plant lovers. Nepal offers more than 350 unique species variety of orchids mostly in the Himalayan forests. The geography and weather conditions here has proved to be the most suitable for designer orchids to grow and develop. So, while you are exploring the national parks and sanctuaries in the Himalayan ranges, you will be amazed with the colors, fragrance and the patterns of the orchid flowers. In Nepal, orchids are known as ‘Sunakhari’. So you can ask the local tribal people or the guide to sight them. Some of the known names are Bamboo orchid, Panch Aunlle, Jivanti, etc. These orchids possess medicinal values. You can even buy these saplings from local nursery costing from 100 NPR to 2000 NPR.
16. Rhododendron Arboreum (Lali Guras)
A Rhododendron of the species arboreum in Nepal is known as ‘Lali Guras’. It is the most commonly found wild plant in the forests and national parks of Nepal. The lush red colored flowers of this plant contrast well against the dark green leaves of the shrub. These attractive flowers of the plant are recognized as the ‘National Flower of Nepal’ as they are one of the main reason to visit Nepal. Other varieties of Rhododendron include white or pink shades with different size and patter of the flower and plant. So, if you happen to visit the Nepal Himalayas in the season of winter, you will be blessed with the scenic view of the colorful mountain slopes covered with red pink and white shades.
17. Sal trees
Sal trees are the natives of the Himalayan ranges. Major Terai region of the Nepal national park and wildlife reserves are covered under the canopies of the Sal trees. The wood of this tree is widely used by the locals and is also exported for various use like construction, furniture and other wooden products manufacturing. This tree also reserves a respected place in the Hindu as well as Buddhist mythology. These trees are responsible for the evergreen canopies of the Nepali jungles.
Fun Facts On Nepal Wildlife
- 1120 species of non - flowering plants and 5980 flowering plant species are found in Nepal with 250 endemic species.
- Nepal ranks 10th in the list of richest flowering plant diversity in Asian continent.
- 8% of the total bird species of the world are found only in Nepal numbering 870 types of species.
- More than 650 species of butterflies flutter here along with the largest moth on the Earth named Atlas Moth.
- Nepal, because of its rich biodiversity has bragged the title of ‘Amazon of Asia’.
- 20% of Nepal’s land is dedicated to wildlife conservation.
- Nepal has witnessed many “zero poaching” years in the wildlife areas especially for one horned Rhinos
- Nepal is the first country to host the first world summit of “Towards Zero Poaching” in 2015.
- Nepal takes pride in doubling the total population of the almost extinct Bengal tigers by 2020.
- Nepal Government also promotes careers in wildlife industry by providing the opportunity of participating in the Wildlife Conservation Internship programs.
Nepal offers an amazing and memorable experience in the bracket of wildlife tourism. So, explore the wild to mark up your travel diary with some adventures and a good cause that promotes wildlife conservation.