is a land of extreme contrasts in climate and geography. It has a unique
topography ranging from lowlands with sub-tropical jungles to arctic
conditions in the Himalayan highlands. Within a mere 150-kms, the land rises
from near sea level in the south to over 8,000m 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 Terai Region
The Terai lowland are defined by a belt of
well-watered floodplains streching from the Indian border northward to the
first slopes of the Bhabhar and the Shiwalik 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 Royal Bengal Tiger, Gharial and Mugger
Crocodiles and the last of a breed of Asiatic Wild Buffalo. This area is
also rich in birdlife with variety of Babblers and Orioles, Koels and
Drongos, Peacocks and Floricans, and a multitude of wintering Wildfowl.
The Protected Areas In Terai Region
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 there rise above 1,220 meters. This
range is famous for fossil deposits of pleistocene mammals, among them 10
species of Elephants, 6 Rhinoceros, Hippopotamus, Sabre-Toothed Cats,
various Antelopes and Primates such as the Orangutan, long extinct in the
Situated north of the Churia are
broad, low valleys of the Inner Terai known 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 if 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 3,500m lies the
Mahabharat Range with its Oak crowned crests. The hills of this mildland 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 multicolored
Impeyan Pheasant (Nepal's National Bird) is also found here with other
endangered birds like the Koklas and Cheer Pleasants.
Protected Areas In The Mahabharat Range
areas in this zone include Khaptad National Park in the far-west, Dhorpatan
Hunting Reserve, northwest of Pokhara and Shivapuri Wildlife Sanctuary near
Kathmandu valley higher still, nearer the snowline, are the alpine mountain
flanks which are the haunt of Snow Leopard, which preys on blue wheep and
the Himalayan Tahr. Rarely seen are the Wolf, Black and Brown Bears and
Lynx. The Sherpas, Managba, 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.
climate range from tropical in the lowlands to arctic in the higher
altitudes. Above 90% of the rain falls during the monsoon June to September.
Vegetation is at its lushes during this season. The best time is October and
November to visit the high altitude Himalayan parks.
The winter months, between December and February, attract large number of
visitors to the lowland parks. Koshi Tappu, Parsa, Chitwan, Bardia and Sukla
Phanta are best visit during this time. This is also good time to observe
wintering birds, including Wildfowl and Waders. From March to May, it is
warm at lower altitudes and cool above 3,000m. This is an ideal time to
visit high altitude nature sanctuaries of Everest, Annapurna, Langtang,
Rara, Khaptad, Shivapuri, Makalu-Barun and Dhorpatan. This is when the
Rhododendron and alpine flowers burst into bloom.