The Royal Chitwan National Park is situated in Nepal, very close to the Valmiki National Park and Tiger Reserve in India. It alone measures 932 square kilometres. It was officially established in 1973 and, just 11 years later, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it was once called the Royal Chitwan National Park, that name has since been shortened and “Royal” is no longer attached to it. This was the first national park ever to be established in the beautiful Nepal. The Tiger Conservation Unit includes this park as well as the Valmiki National Park and the Parsa Wildlife Reserve, making Chitwan an integral part of a very important initiative.

Once the hunting grounds of the government officials, Chitwan yielded an abundance of awe-inspiring animals. The hunters’ targets were usually the Bengal Tiger, Indian Rhino, leopards and Sloth Bears. Because the area could only be reached by foot and it was a difficult trek, these hunters would set up camp for months on end, killing hundreds of animals before returning to their luxurious homes to revel in their ‘achievement’. This led to the near-demise of these species, and had devastating effects on the area’s biodiversity. In the mid-20th century (1950), farmers moved into this area in search of arable land for their crops. They poached rhinos for the money they yielded as well as to protect their new-found land. In 1957, the government saw the need to protect these animals by legislature and the first law against poaching was implemented. Censuses and surveys also played a key role in extending the sanctuary today known as the Chitwan National Park. By the end of the 1960’s, vast areas of jungle were being cleared for human habitation and development.
Image of Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), Chitwan, Nepal
Mugger crocodile (Crocodylus palustris), Chitwan, Nepal
Fewer than 100 Indian Rhinos were left in the area. The situation was desperate. This led to 130 men being employed to conduct armed patrols of the area. This was largely effective in preventing or limiting illegal poaching. Less than a decade later, the area was again extended to its current size.

Today, the Indian Rhinos and Bengal Tigers are just two of the exciting species found in Chitwan National Park in Nepal. Other species include the King Cobra, Indian Rock Python, Mugger Crocodile, the rare and endangered Gharial, leopard, Bengal Fox, Yellow-throated Marten, Fishing Cat, Hog Deer, Chital, Indian Pangolin, Spotted Linsang, Palm Civet, Smooth-coated Otter, Golden Jackal, Asian Elephant and Binturong. Birds are also plentiful and are a particular delight to those who enjoy staring skywards through binoculars in search of rare and impressive species. Some of these include kingfishers, Peafowl, the Eastern Imperial Eagle and Indian Cuckoos, to name just a few. In addition, a breeding centre for the critically endangered Oriental White-backed Vulture and the Slender-billed Vulture was established in 2008.

Because of the Chital National Park’s positioning within the Himalayan Mountain Range, the monsoon season occurs between June and September, causing almost constant rainfall throughout this period. Summer highs can reach approximately 40 degrees Celsius and winters drop to between zero and 10 degrees.

Today, the Chitwan National Park is a popular destination for national and international tourists alike. The park is well equipped with accommodation facilities as well as various activities that encourage visitors to explore the natural surrounds (e.g. guided walks through the jungle, safaris, river rafting tours and so on). The Bharatpur Airport is close, making Chitwan accessible and convenient.

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