Asian rhino in Royal Bardia National Park.
Formerly called the Royal Bardia National Park, this gorgeous Nepalese reserve covers 968 square kilometres of raw wilderness in the Terai district. It was formerly established in 1988. The Geruwa River and the Babai River form boundaries between the natural area and the places that humans have inhabited and cultivated. Unfortunately, the Nepalgunj-Surkhet Highway also forms part of the southern boundary of this protected area, causing major disruptions in the environmental balance and the natural behaviour of the local fauna. Bardia combines with the Banke District to form the much larger Tiger Conservation Unit Bardia-Banke. This is aimed at protecting the endangered Bengal Tiger from human encroachment, poaching and the harmful effects of pollution and industrialisation.
This area belonged to the British from the early-1800’s until 1860, when it was returned to Nepal. It was also a Royal Hunting Reserve in the 1960’s. In 1976, it was made the Royal Karnali Wildlife Reserve and, just six years later, it was renamed the Royal Bardia National Park. In 1984, the official area was extended to include the beautiful Babai River Valley. Bardia received the status of being a National Park in 1988.
The vast majority of the park is occupied by lush, dense forests, which are ideal for the animals that have made this their home. In other areas, savannahs and Riverine forests create added biodiversity and ensure that an increased variety of plant- and animal species are able to inhabit the area. In terms of climatic conditions, the Bardia National Park is best visited between October and April. This is when weather conditions are at their most comfortable and when the maximum number of different species can be enjoyed by onlookers. The One-horned Rhinoceros (also known as the Indian Rhinoceros) is a popular species that this park protects and preserves. This endangered species was once hunted extensively for its valuable horn and the status that was bestowed upon hunters of these giants. These animals were moved to Bardia National Park from the Chitwan National Park several times in order to boost their population numbers and diversify the gene pool. One of the last wild herds of Indian Elephants also occupies the territory within Bardia. It comprises fewer than 25 individuals and is, therefore, very valuable. In addition to these rare wonders, other animal species include Chital, Barking Deer, Barasingha, Gaur, Nilgai, Goral, Langur, Rhesus Macaque, leopard, Indian Otter, Marsh Mugger Crocodile, Gharial Crocodile and the Gangetic Dolphin. There is also an abundance of beautiful and exciting bird species soaring in the heavens or perching within the branches of a towering tree. In fact, over 300 species, both local and migratory, have been identified by avian enthusiasts and researchers. The migratory birds are best spotted in November, February, March and April of every year.
Tourists will reach Bardia National Park by travelling from Kathmandu to Napalgunj by bus or plane. Then, they will embark on a five-hour drive from Napalgunj to Thakurdwara, where the reception office is situated.
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