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Bardia National Park
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Wildlife
 

Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park, Bardia, Bardya, Nepal, Wildlife, Safari, Tour, Package, Fishing, Hunting, Royal, Western Nepal, Karnali Wildlife Reserve, Nepalgunj, Surkhet, Rhino, Tiger, River, Babai Valley

Bardia National Park (810 20' E and 280 35' N) is the largest lowland protected area of Nepal. The park is located in the western lowland and encompasses a total area of 968 km2. The park includes alluvial floodplains created by Karnali River in the west and pristine ecosystem of Bardia valley in the northeastern section of the park.

In 1967, part of the area was established as Royal Hunting Reserve. Later in 1976, the area was gazetted as Royal Karnali Wildlife Reserve to include an area of 386 sq km and renamed as the Royal Bardia Wildlife Reserve (RBWR) in 1982. Before the establishment of hunting reserve the villages located in Baghaura Phanta and Lamkoili Phanta were relocated outside the reserve boundary. In 1984, the area was extended in the east to include the Babai Valley to encompass a total area of 968 km2. In 1988, the whole area was declared as Bardia National Park (RBNP). Recently the proposed extension of the park in the east in Banke district has been dedicated as a "Gift to the Earth" and declaration is in process.

The park is bordered with Ratna Highway (Nepalganj-Surkhet road) in the east. Geruwa River, eastern branch of Karnali river system forms the western boundary of the park. The crest of the Churia range forms the northern boundary of the park and the southern boundary adjoins cultivated lands, settlements, buffer zone forest and part of the East-West Highway.

The park is reputed for its rich biodiversity. The vegetation in the park ranges from early successional stage, tall floodplains grassland, established on the alluvial floodplain of Karnali, Orai and Babai river systems to the climax stage, sal (Shorea robusta) forest, extended on relatively dry flat lands and slopes of the park are revegetated and are dominated by grass species.

The faunal diversity of the park includes 53 species of mammals including endangered megaherbivores like rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) and elephant (Elephas maximus), more then 25 species of reptiles, over 400 species of birds, 121 species of fishes and unknown diversity of mollusks and arthropods.

Species conservation in the park has yielded satisfactory results as a number of mammalian species such as tiger, elephant, spotted deer, hog deer, smabar deer, swamp deer etc. have made remarkable comeback. In this regard, reintroduction program of endangered rhinoceros has been carried out regularly since 1986. So far a total of 58 rhinoceros have been released in two different sites (Karnali floodplain and Babai valley) of the park. The current population of rhinoceros has been estimated at 73.

The park provides an excellent wilderness experience for visitors. Unique flora, fauna and landscape of the park and indigenous culture of buffer zone communities are important attraction for the tourists. In recent years the number of tourists visiting the park has increased remarkably.

A narrow strip of buffer zone covering an area of about 327 sq. km adjoins the park in the west and in the south. More then 100,000 people of diverse ethnicity inhabit the buffer zone. Tharus are the indigenous group and comprises above 60% of the total population. Other ethnic groups in the buffer zone include Brahmin/Kshetri, occupational castes and the people from Mongoloid origin (Magar, Gurung, Tamang etc). Agriculture is the main occupation of buffer zone communities.

Restriction in the traditional use of nature resources inside the park, damage to agricultural crops, local harassment and livestock depredation by the park animals have created conflict between the park and people residing in the buffer zone. To overcome these problems, a wide range of initiatives has been instigated for the past few years. Allowing local communities to collect thatch grass inside the park and declaration of buffer zone regulation are among the major steps taken in this regard. Beside, a Rahat Kosh (relief fund) has also been created to compensate injuries and loss of life, livestock depredation and property (mainly house) damages caused by wild animals. Furthermore, RBNP in direct collaboration with four major projects has been launching a number integrated conservation and development programs targeted to build up harmonious relationship between park and people as well as to motivate buffer zone communities towards the conservation of the park bio-diversity.

For the better protection and management of the park, HMG has developed 132 park staff, 2 companies of Nepal Army and 10 elephants and their drivers (35 persons). Similarly, a wide range of interventions has also been made to manage park's bio-diversity. Habitat management is among the major initiatives taken to improve the foraging grounds for large and medium sized mammals.

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