Bardia National Park
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 the Karnali River in the west and the pristine ecosystem of Bardia valley in the northeastern section of the park.
In 1967, part of the area was established as a 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 reserves 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, the eastern branch of the 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 floodplain 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 an 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, sambar deer, swamp deer etc. have made remarkable a comeback. In this regard, reintroduction programmes of endangered rhinoceros have 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 landscapes of the park and indigenous culture of buffer zone communities are important attractions to 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 a declaration of buffer zone regulation are among the major steps taken in this regard. Furthermore, 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 of integrated conservation and development programs targeted to build up a harmonious relationship between the park and people as well as to motivate buffer zone communities towards the conservation of the park's bio-diversity.
For the better protection and management of the park, HMG has developed 132 park staff, 2 companies of Nepalese Army and 10 elephants and their drivers (35 persons). Similarly, a wide range of interventions has also been made to manage the park's bio-diversity. Habitat management is among the major initiatives taken to improve the foraging grounds for large and medium sized mammals.
Fact - Sheet
Crest of Siwalik range
East-West Highway, bufferzone forest and cultivated land
Ratna Highway (Kohalpur-Surkhet Road)
Western bank of Karnali River
|Measurement & Datas|
|Length: East-West||ca 70 km|
|Width: North-South||10-20 km|
|Highest altitude||1441 m (Sukarmala Danda)|
|Lowest altitude||152 m (Manau Ghat)|
|Major rivers||Karnali/Geruwa, Babai|
|Total mammal species||ca 53 (including 10 protected)|
|Total bird speciesca||400 (including 6 protected)|
|Total reptile species||25 (including 3 protected)|
|Total fish species||121 species|
|Office & Post|
|Sector Office||East Chisapani and West Chisapani|
|Park guard posts||14 (including headquarters)|
|Protection unit posts||12 (including headquarters)|
|Nepal Army Company||2 (Thakurdwara and East Chisapani)|
|Way & Length|
|Total length of road||about 205 km (forest road and highway)|
|Public Right of Ways||Armreni, Telpani, Ranjha-Chisapani|
|Districts||3 (Banke, Surkhet and Bardia)|
|Total Area||327 km2|
|Total population||ca 100000|
|Ethnic groups||Tharu, Brahimin/Chhetris and Mongoloids|
|Bardia National Park (proposed extension)|
|Total area||Core area-549.13 sq. km
Buffer Zone area-344.13 sq. km
|South||East-West Highway and Rapti River|
The park is known for its rich floral diversity. It contains diverse ecosystems ranging from tall alluvial floodplain grassland of early successional stage to climax stage sal forest established on uplands. A vegetation study conducted by Dinerstein (1979) classified six major vegetation types. Jnawali and Wegge (1993) later modified this into seven major vegetation types. Sharma (1999) has classified the vegetation of southwestern section of the park into 15 different microhabitats. Major vegetation types found in the park are summarized below:
Sal Shorea robusta forest makes above 70% of the forest cover in the park and grows on well-drained uplands. S. robusta, Terminalia sps., Buchanania latifolia, Carrya arboria and Dilenia pentagyna are common species found in this vegetation type.
Khair-sissoo forest is established on relatively old floodplain and consist of Dalbergia sissoo and Acacia catechu as dominating tree species. Other tree species found in this association include Ehretia laevis, Trewia nudiflora and Mallotus philippinensis. Murraya koinigii, Callicarpa macrophylla and Colebrookia opposotofolia are important shrub species that form dense under story cover.
Moist riverine forest extends along watercourses. Syzigium cumini, Mallotus philippinensis, Ficus glomerata, Trewia nudiflora, and Dalbergia sissoo are among commonly found tree species in this type of vegetation. The ground is relatively open and contains humid soil. Climbing palm Calamus tanusi and Karot (Teliacora sps), both climbers are indicator species of moist riverine forest.
Mixed hardwood forest grows in well-drained areas. Adina Cordifolia, Casearia tomentosa, lagerstroemia parviflora and Mitragyna parviflora are among tree species found in this type.
Wooded grasslands are similar to Savanna type where ground vegetation is dominated by grass species with sparsely distributed tree species. Common grass species found in this vegetation type are Saccharum spontaneum, Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum bengalensis, Desmostachia bipinnata and Vetiveria zizanoides. Sparsely distributed tree species include Bombax ceiba, M. phillippensis, A. cordifolia, Largerstroemia parviflora and Dalbergia sissoo.
Phantas are the open short grassland area on previously cultivated fields. Imperata cylindrica, Saccharum spontanum and Narenga perphrocoma are the dominating grass species in phantas. Baghaura and Lamkoili Phantas in the southwestern section, and Guthi, Shivpur, Sanosiri, Thulosiri and Chepang phantas are the typical example of this type.
Tall alluvial floodplain grassland grows on the riverbeds of Geruwa, Orai and Babai Rivers. The dominating species of these grasslands include Saccharum spontaneum, Saccharum bengalensis, Phragmites karka and arundax.
Topography and drainage The topography of the park is quite diverse with flood plains, river valleys and gorges, and the Churia hill. The park's northern boundary is the crest of the Churia range, which is well above 1219m. The highest elevation is 1441 m at Sukramala and the lowest elevation is 152m (Manau Ghat) is the south. The southern slope of the Churia range is quite steep, falling steadily to ca 350m and merging into the flat land, below 152 m. Almost 42% of the area lies between 250-500 meters whereas about 5.4% areas lies between 750-1000 meters.
The Karnali and Babai Rivers are perennial river systems that flow through the park. The eastern branch of the Karnail River forms the western boundary of the park where as the Babai River drains the park in the northeastern sector. The Orai River and Gumnaha Nala and Ambasa Khola drain the park area between the Karnali and Babai rivers. Maan Khola, Karolia Nala and many other seasonal nrivers drain the southern face of the Churia between Babai and the eastern border of the park.
The dominant slope of the park is above 300m with more then 20-cm deep soil that covers almost 34% of the park area, whereas the dominant slope of the buffer zone is below 10m with deep soil that covers ca 66% of the buffer zone area. The geological formation of the Churia range is the determining factor for the soil types of the park. The Churia is of late tertiary in origin. Exposed rocks consist of fine-grained sand stone with pockets of clay, shale, conglomerate and freshwater limestone. Soils are young, shallow and subject to high rates of erosion and landslides. The Bhabar zone consists of boulder, cobbles, gravels and course sand interbedded with silt and clay from the Churia. Most of the park belongs to the Bhabar zone. The alluvial soils in the flat lowland below the Bhabar are quite deep.
Bardia National Park has a sub-tropical monsoon climate with three distinct season in the annual cycle: hot season (March-June), Monsoon (July-October) and winter (October-February). About 90% of the precipitation occurs during the months of July, August and September. The absolute maximum temperature of 410C and minimum temperature of 3.10C were recorded in May 1996 and January 1987 respectively. The highest rainfall of 2798 mm and lowest rainfall of 1592 mm occurred in the year 1990 and 1992, respectively.
Access to the park
The Park is approximately 370 km by air from Kathmandu. The airport at Nepalganj, ca 85 km from park headquarters provides air transport facilities for the area. It can be approached overland from Kathmandu through the Prithbi Highway (Kathmandu-Mugling), the Mugling-Narayangarh Highway and the East-West highway (Narayangarh to Amreni). A 13 km rough road turns west from the East-West highway at Amreni leading to park headquarters. Surface travel with two wheeled vehicles is difficult during monsoon season since no bridge exists across the Orai River (ca 1 km from Amreni) and it occasionally swells high due to monsoon rains. The park is not accessible by vehicle during monsoon. Domestic elephants are the safest mode of transport during monsoon season. Telecommunication facilities are available in our lodge. One public telephone service center with ISTD communication facility is operational at the Thakurdwara temple area, ca 2.5 km east from Rhino Lodge Bardia. A cyber-café is also available for e-mail and Internet in Bardia.
The park supports exceptionally diverse wildlife populations. It harbors a total of 53 species of mammals, ca400 species of avifauna, 25 species of reptiles and amphibians and 121 species of fishes. Major findings of the bio-diversity inventory are presented separately in Basnet (1995). Checklists of mammals, birds, amphibians/reptiles and flora are presented in Annexes.
Several wildlife species found in the park are listed as protected species according to the wildlife and conservation act 1973. The protected mammals in the park include Bengal Tiger tigris tigris, One-horned Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis, Asiatic Elephant Elephas maximus, Swamp Deer cervus duvauceli duvauceli, Gangetic Dolphin Platanista gangetica, Striped Hyena Hyaena hyaena, Fouror-horned Antelope Tetraceros quardricornis and Chinese Pangolin Manis pentadactyla. Similarly, the protected birds recorded in the park are Giant Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Sarus Crane Grus antigone, Bengal Florican Eupodtis bengalensis, and Lesser Florican Sypheotides indica. Gharial gangeticus and phyton molurus are reptiles in the similar category. In addition, large populations of Spotted Deer, Barking Deer and Wild Boar together with avian - herpeto fauna and invertebrates enrich the biological diversity of the park.
As a part of species conservation, 58 greater one-horned rhinoceros were translocated (1986-13,1991-25,1999-4and 2000-16) from Chitwan National Park and released in Karnali and Babai river basins (Jnawali2000). The current population of Rhinoceros including 16 individuals released in 2000 is estimated at 73 .Of them, 41 are residing in the Babai valley and 32 in the Geruwa floodplain.
Similarly, tigers occupy the floodplains of Geruwa, Orai and Babai as well as sal forest between the Geruma River and foothills of the Siwalik range of the East-West Highway. The tiger population in the park is estimated at about ca 50 breeding adults.
The elephant population in the park consists of both migratory and resident individuals. The elephant population until 1992 was estimated at only 2 males roaming in the southwestern section of the park. The size of elephant population was increased as 23 individuals migrated during 1993/94 dry season. Later in 1999 the number of wild elephant in Bardia was found to be above 40 individuals. The only wild population of Black Buck (ca 45 individuals) survives at Khairapur (out sides the park), ca 40 km southeast from the park Headquarters. Himalayan Black Bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) was recorded for the first time in the Babai valley during the dry season of 2000 .Sloth Bears (Ursus mekursus) are found in some areas and a small population of Bluebull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is found in the southern part of the park.