Nepal’s amazing biodiversity, on account of the fact that the elevation ranges from 70 meters above sea level in the Terai to 8,848 meters (Mt. Everest), and that this range is within less than 400 kilometers distance, assures a wealth of different fauna within areas that aren’t very far from each other.
Nepal is rich in bird species, with Shivpuri, Pokhara, Chitwan, Lumbini, and Koshi Tappu being the prime locations to view more than 870 species of birds. Koshi Tappu, the first Ramsar (wetland) site to be developed in the country, is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and on a two-week tour, you may see a many as 300 species. Along with the wetlands, the Sapta Koshi River provides refuge for many migratory birds and waterfowls, including the elegant white Ibis.
Nepal has around 20 globally endangered bird species, which include the lesser Adjutant Storshoi, but at the same time, specie like the barn owl, which is in the danger list in many countries due to rampant use of harmful chemicals, is pretty safe here. Also safe is the Eurasian large owl. However, the Terai’s white rumped vulture is not safe. Many have died because of indiscriminate use of the pain-killer Diclofenac Sodium (which has a toxic effect on the kidneys) on livestock, the carcasses of which vultures gorge on.
The Eurasian Griffon, black kite (of Mustang), and the Lammergeuer (an eagle with a three-meter wing span that soars over the Himalayan valley and is known as the protector of the Himalayas), are particularly interesting bird species found in Nepal. The Sarus crane of Lumbini, among the large variety of cranes, and tallest of flying birds, is believed to be the harbinger of bumper harvests and a happy conjugal life. During the second week of October, one may see the Demoiselle crane (karyang kurung), a migratory bird that travels from Dar E Salaam, over the Himalayas, and on to Gujarat and Rajasthan. As for the butterfly; experts state that Nepal has about 650 species. It’s an amazing number or such a small country.
Coming to four legged creatures, the Suklaphanta Reserve has the largest herd of swamp deer (Bara Singhe), while other deer like chital and hog deer are found aplenty throughout the country. The Blue Bull, largest antelope of the sub continent is also found in Nepal, as is found the fierce arna (ancestors of the domestic buffaloes) although they number only a few hundreds, if that. The Gaur bison, the world’s biggest wild cattle, is to be found in the Churiya hills, although many have succumbed to foot and mouth disease.
Regarding the endangered one-horned rhino, although the scenario was bleak during the 1950s and 1960s, conservation efforts have paid good dividends, and now there is quite a good growth in their number. In addition to this rare species of wildlife, the presence of royal Bengla tigers, sloth bear, Himalayan black bear, brown bear, wild boar, common leopard, clouded leopard, snow leopard, red pandas, jharal (himalayan mountain goat), bharal (blue sheep), etc. justify Nepal’s claim as an Asian safari destination.