Hotel Shanker Lazimpat Kathmandu 44600 Nepal

It is common knowledge that Nepal is home to a significant number of the endangered one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis), the preservation of which is a continuous effort of the government. Most of them are to be found in Chitwan National Park, with some in Bardiya National Park, and smaller numbers in Suklphanta Wildlife Reserve. Rhinos can weigh up to 2700 kg each. It is also common knowledge that the country has quite a number of the splendid Royal Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris bengalensis) which call the abovementioned parks their home. Males can weigh around 235 kg while females weigh about 140 kilograms. Both are magnificent animals, and visitors at the parks consider themselves fortunate to see them in the wild.

What is less known is that Nepal is also home to some 650 species of butterflies, which is a hefty 4.2% of the global population. Similarly, there are about 870 species of birds in the country. Thirty-five species, including the barn owl, the Eurasian large owl, the Lesser Adjutant Storhoi, and the white-rumped vulture are in the globally endangered list. The Indian Sarus crane, a migratory species which comes to Nepal annually from Dar Es Salam in Africa, is also on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

There are nine wetlands (Ramsars) in different parts of the country, all excellent sites for bird watching. Among these, Koshi Tappu (17,500 h) in eastern Nepal is the largest, as well as the first Ramsar to be developed, in 1987, with Gokyo and associated lakes in Solukhumbu being the second largest. Beeshazar and associated lakes (Chitwan), Ghodaghodi Lake (Kailali), Rara Lake (Mugu district), Gosainkunda and associated lakes (Rasuwa district), Jagadishpur reservoir (Kapilvastu), Mai Pokhari (Ilam), and Phoksundo Lake (Dolpa) are the others wetland sites. Clearly, bird watchers have the choice of a diverse range of sites that offer a large variety of bird species.

Particularly interesting are species like the Himalayan Griffon vulture, the black kite, and the Lammergeuer (called the protector of the Himalayas). Also found in the high Himalayan region is Nepal’s national bird, the Monal pheasant (Lopophorus impejanus), known as danfe locally, one of the most colorful among a large number of other pheasants that are as colorful. Adult males are multihued with metallic green crests; females, in contrast, are a dull brownish in color. A danfe in dance is a lovely sight, with its spread-out wings and tail feathers showing off a fantastic range of beautiful colors.

Coming back to mammals, the Suklaphanta Reserve has the country’s largest herd of swamp deer (locally known as Bara Singhe), while the last surviving population of the country’s water buffalo (Arna) are to be found in Koshi Tappu. Some of the world’s largest cattle, the Gaur bison, have been seen in the Churiya hills in central Nepal. The beautiful snow leopard can be found at heights between 3,000 to 5,500 m in places like Mustang, Dolpa, and Humla, while the Himalayan blue sheep (Bharal), which has characteristics of both the wild sheep and the goat, but is not blue, can be seen at altitudes over 4,000 meters. They are extremely sure-footed and have curved horns.

When talking about Nepal’s exotic mammals, how can one forget to mention the sturdy yaks (Bos grunniens), even if they may not be considered as wildlife? These thick-coated animals, blessed with extraordinarily strong lungs, can weigh up to 550 kg each. Found at altitudes up to 6,000 m, yaks are man’s best friends in the high Himalayan region, carrying heavy loads, plowing fields, and providing rich milk and meat, besides wool (for clothing), dung (for fuel), and hide (for making leather goods). Even their bones are put to good use to make artifacts, while their hair and wool goes towards the making of ropes, tents, blankets, and sacks. Doorways of homes are decorated with their horns (to ward off evil spirits), the tails make good dusters, and their blood is regarded as a cure-all for many ailments. Males are called yaks while females are known as naks (or driks) in the Sherpa language, and when they are crossbred with cows, the offspring are called dzo (if male), and dzomo (if female).

Another of Nepal’s interesting wildlife is the gharial (Gavialis gngeticus), a rare crocodile with a bulbuous growth on the nose of males. It is an endangered animal that can be seen in Chitwan National Park, where they have a breeding program for the species. This rich diversity of exotic wildlife makes Nepal a highly desirable destination for animal lovers, and the country has made good efforts with the help of international organizations, towards its conservation. Accordingly, the country has nine national parks and protected areas. The former includes Chitwan, Bardiya, Sagarmatha, Annapurna, Langtang, Shey Phoksundo, Khaptad Dhorpatan, and Rara National Parks, while the latter includes Koshi Tappu, Parsa, and Shukla Phanta Reserves.  


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