Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park located at North East India is one of the most popular ecological sites in the Indian subcontinent. The national park is popular for hosting the two-third population of the One-horned Rhinos in the world. Established during the British Raj in 1908, it boasts the most varied flora and fauna in the entire nation.


Overview

Kaziranga National Park 430 km2 is located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, India. The park is located on the edge of Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot. Even though it was established in 1908, the park was added to the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO only on 1985.

Kaziranga
Kaziranga

The park is popular for hosting the largest amount of One-horned Rhinos along with Royal Bengal Tigers. Kaziranga is home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.

The park experiences 3 different weathers; Summer, Monsoon and Winter. During Monsoon (Jul-August), most part of the park is submerged into water, due to rising level of water from rainfall and flooding.

History

The history of the national park dates back to 1904 when Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston and the wife of the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, visited the area. After failing to see a single rhinoceros, for which the area was renowned, she persuaded Lord Curzon to take immediate measure to protect the lessening Rhino species in the region.

On 1 June 1905, the Kaziranga Proposed Reserve Forest was created with an area of 232 km2.

One Horned Rhinos

[Full Article One-horned Rhino]

There are over 2,200 One-horned Rhinos in the Kaziranga area, approximately 2/3 of their entire population. One Horned Rhino is endemic to Indian subcontinent. Found mostly in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, they have been listed in the IUCN Red list for the most vulnerable animals, and only about 3,000 are left in the wild.

One-horned Rhino at Kaziranga
One-horned Rhino at Kaziranga

Rhinos are one of the most hunted and poached animals in the history. The passionate hunters from 20th Century reduced their numbers from thousands to mere few hundreds.

The activity of rampant poaching which started in the 1990s made them even more scarce. They were being mostly poached for their horns, which are believed to carry medicinal qualities. The local authorities and UNESCO helped prevent poaching in the Kaziranga park. Today, it boasts the most amount of Rhinos in the world.

These rhinos live in tall grasslands and riverine forests but due to habitat loss they have been forced into more cultivated land. They are mostly solitary creatures, with the exception of mothers and calves and breeding pairs, although they sometimes congregate at bathing areas.

Preservation

Kaziranga contains significant breeding populations of 35 mammalian species, of which 15 are threatened as per the IUCN Red List. It is also home to a variety of migratory birds, water birds, predators, scavengers, and game birds.

Four main types of vegetation exist in this park. These are alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests. The park is mostly an expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests.

The area is controlled by the Government of Assam. They receive financial aid from the state government and the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change of India.

Chitwan National Park

The first national park of Nepal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and is home to some of the most endangered species of animal.


Overview

Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and was listed in the World Heritage Sites in 1984. Spanning over 932 km2 in the sub-tropical region of Nepal, the park covers four different districts, namely; Nawalparasi, Parsa, Chitwan & Makwanpur.

Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park

The southern plains of Nepal is known for its lush green vegetation, variety of yielding crops and wildlife. More than 150,000 tourists visit the park annually. It has a tropical monsoon weather which permits regular rainfall in the area throughout the year.

The various outdoor activities and quality lodges inside the park offers much fun for the incoming visitors. Some of the popular destinations in the area are; Elephant breeding center, Bishazari Tal, ethnic Tharu village and Sauraha. You can enjoy elephant safari, jungle walk, jeep ride, boating on Rapti river, overnight stay inside the forest and even camel ride during the tour.

You can choose to extend your regular trip with a 2-3 days tour of the Chitwan whenever you visit Nepal.

History

Though, the forest has been under protection for decades, the darker past of Nepal still has its tales to tell. The massive hunting expeditions organized by royals members of Nepal, officers of British empire and other hunting enthusiasts during the 19-20th century caused most of the mass depletion of some of the exquisite animals from the region.

King Edward VII with his entourage in Nepal
King Edward VII with his entourage in Nepal

The mass poaching since 1950 has also caused the major depletion of One-horned Rhino and Royal Bengal Tiger in an alarming rate.

In 1950, Chitwan grasslands and forests spanned over 2,600 km2, however, due to rampant settlement in the area the forest has been dwindled in alarming rate. After the ruling of the first conservation law of the country, the forest and wildlife lying inside the territory has been kept protected from the settlements.

The year 2016 marked the Zero Poaching for two consecutive years in Nepal, with not a single poaching of the endangered species were recorded.

Wildlife

Chitwan boasts more than 700 species of wildlife and a not yet fully surveyed number of butterfly, moth and insect species. Apart from king cobra and rock python, 17 other species of snakes, starred tortoise and monitor lizards occur.

The Narayani-Rapti river system, their small tributaries and myriads of oxbow lakes is habitat for 113 recorded species of fish and mugger crocodiles. It is home to 68 species of mammals, including; Royal Bengal Tiger, One-horned Rhino, Sloth beer, Asiatic elephant, Bengal fox, Honey badgers, golden jackals and more.

Over 546 species of birds were recorded to be seen by the birders and conservationists in 2006.



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One-Horned Rhino

One Horned Rhino is endemic to Indian subcontinent. Found mostly in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, they have been listed in the IUCN Red list for the most vulnerable animals, and only about 3,000 are left in the wild.

Popularly known as the Great One-horned rhinos or Indian Rhinos, the specific breed of Rhinoceros are found only in the Indian subcontinent.

Factfile
Family Rhinocerotidae
Species R.unicornis
Height 5.75 – 6.5 feet
Weight 4,000 – 6,000 Pounds
Length 10 – 12.5 feet
Habitat Tropical and Subtropical Grasslands
Location India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan

Hunting & Poaching

Rhino fight at Baroda
Rhino fight at Baroda. rhinos were tussled in the ring for the entertainment during the times of Maharaja

Rhinos are one of the most hunted and poached animals in the history. The passionate hunters of yesteryear India, namely; Maharajas, Hunters and British officials, reduced the number of rhinos to few hundreds from the thousands.

The activity of rampant poaching which started in the 1990s made them even more scarce. They were being mostly poached for their horns, which are believed to carry medicinal qualities.

Conservation

The rapid decline of Rhinos in the wild shed light on the importance of protection. Since then, WWF and other stakeholders worked together to help protect and increase their number in the wild. Today, they are mainly kept under the surveillance in the Buffer zones, national parks and conservation areas.

Chitwan National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), covering 932 km2, was established in 1973 in the subtropical inner Terai belts of South-central Nepal. It is known as the first national park of Nepal. A buffer zone, it protects endangered species of Royal Bengal Tiger and One-horned Rhinos.

The latest rhino count was conducted from 11 April to 2 May 2015 and revealed 645 individuals living in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Chitwan National Park, Bardia National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and respective buffer zones in the Terai Arc Landscape.


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