Chitwan National Park is the first national park in Nepal. Formerly called Royal Chitwan National Park it was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. It covers an area of 932 km2 and is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal in the Chitwan district. In altitude it ranges from about 100 metres (330 ft) in the river valleys to 815 metres (2,674 ft) in the Churia Hills.Chitwan National Park has long been regarded as Nepal’s third biggest attraction after trekking and the Kathmandu Valley. This huge and beautiful nature reserve protects 932 sq km of sal forest, water marshes and rippling grassland. The park is one of the last refuges of the endangered one-horned Indian rhino and there are sizeable populations of tigers, leopards and rare Gangetic dolphins
Chitwan National Park is one of Nepal’s most popular tourist destinations. In 1989 more than 31,000 people visited the park, and ten years later already more than 77,000.There are several lodges inside the national park offering full board and accommodation in combination with elephant and jeep safaris, rafting tours and guided jungle walks. The pioneer safari lodge is Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge which has been receiving guests since 1972, before the national park was established. Tiger Tops has developed standards for responsible conservation tourism and supports the “Long-term Tiger Monitoring Project” of the International Trust for Nature Conservation and anti-poaching units operating in the national park.On the edge of the national park Sauraha is a well-known spot for tourists. Accessible from the nearby Bharatpur Airport, Sauraha offers a choice of hotels, lodges, restaurants and agencies that organize day trips into the protected area.
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 marsh mugger crocodile and the last of a breed of Asiatic wild buffalo. This area is also rich in birdlife 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-horned 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 2000 and 3500 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, North-west of Pokhara and Shivapuri Wildlife Sanctuary near Kathmandu.
Higher still, nearer the snowline, are the alpine mountain flanks which are the haunt of snow leopard, which preys on blue sheep and the Himalayan tahr. Rarely seen are the wolf, black 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 all over the world and each park and reserve has its own attraction.
Inspired by: Wikipedia, visitnepal.com, lonelyplanet.com