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Wildlife in Royal Chitwan National Park

 

Royal Chitwan National Park stands today as a successful testimony of nature conservation in South Asia. This is the first national park of Nepal established in 1973 to preserve a unique ecosystem significantly valuable to the whole world. The park covering a pristine area of 932 sq. km is situated in the subtropical inner Terai lowlands of southern central part of Nepal. The park has gained much wider recognition in the world when UNESCO included this area on the list of World Heritage Site in 1984.

Formerly, the Chitwan valley was well known for big game and was exclusively managed as a hunting reserve for the Rana Prime Ministers and their guests until 1950. In 1963, the area south of Rapti was demarcated as a rhinoceros sanctuary. In 1970, His late Majesty King Mahendra had approved in principle the creation of Royal Chitwan National Park.

The park consists of churia hills, ox-bow lakes, flood plains of Rapti, Reu and Narayani rivers. The Churia hill rises gradually towards the east from 150 m to over 800 m. The lower but most rugged Someshwor hills occupy most of the western portion of the park. The flood plains of Chitwan are rich alluvial. The park boundaries have been delineated by the Narayani and Rapti rivers in the north and west, and the Reu river and Someshwor hills in the south and south-west. It shares its eastern border with Parsa Wildlife Reserve.

The Chitwan valley is characterized by tropical to subtropical forest. 70% of park vegetation is predominantly Sal (Shorea robusta) forest, a moist deciduous climax vegetation type of the Terai region. The remaining vegetation types include grassland (20%), riverine forest (7%) and Sal with Chirpine (Pinus roxburghii) (3%), the latter occurring at the top of the Churia range. The riverine forests mainly consists of khair, sissoo and simal. The simal is with spiny bark when young and develops buttress at the bottom in older stage. The grasslands form a diverse and complex community with over 50 species. The Sacchrum species, often called elephant-grass can reach 8 m in height. The shorter grasses such as Imperata is useful for thatch roofs.
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