Nepal is a landlocked Himalayan country in South Asia. The country has some of the world’s tallest mountains including the 8,848 ft tall Mount Everest. Nepal is well-known for its scenic landscapes and great diversity of wildlife which are protected within the limits of the country’s twelve national parks. These national parks are as follows:
12. Parsa National Park
This national park is located in south-central Nepal. The park occupies an area of 637.37 square km in the Inner Terai lowlands region. The elevation of the park is between 435 m and 950 m. The Parsa National Park was established in 1984. Sal forests constitute 90% of the park’s vegetation. In total, 919 species of flora grow in this national park. Some of the most notable fauna present here are the Bengal tiger and the gaur.
11. Shuklaphanta National Park
This national park is located in Nepal’s Far-Western Region. Established in 1976, the national park encompasses an area of 305 square km. Several types of habitat like forests, tropical wetlands, grasslands, etc., are present here. Nearly 700 species of plants are estimated to grow here with grassland vegetation accounting for early half of the park’s area. Sal forests are also common. The water bodies and wetlands of the Shuklaphanta National Park hosts about 28 species of fish and 12 amphibian and reptilian species. Some of these species include the mugger crocodile, Indian cobra, common krait, Indian rock python, etc. The mammalian fauna of the park includes 46 species. The Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, elephant, sloth bear, one-horned rhinoceros are some of the park’s iconic species. 423 species of birds have also been recorded here.
10. Banke National Park
This national park of Nepal occupies an area of 550 square km in the country’s Mid-Western Region. It was established as recently as 2010. The majority of the park is part of the Churia range. 113 species of trees, 107 species of herbs, and 85 climber and shrub species have been recorded here. The Bengal tiger and the four-horned antelope are the most notable fauna of the park.
9. Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park
This national park was founded in 2002 and encompasses an area of 159 square km. It is located in the Kathmandu Valley’s northern fringes. The vegetation of the park varies with altitude. 2,122 species of flora and 129 species of mushrooms including 16 species of endemic plants have been recorded here. The national park has a great faunal biodiversity. The Indian leopard, Indian civet, Himalayan goral, Himalayan pika, pangolin, rhesus monkey, wild boar, and many more mammalian species are found at this national park. The park also has a rich birdlife featuring 318 species. Other fauna includes an incredible diversity of reptilians, amphibians, and invertebrates.
8. Makalu Barun National Park
Established in 1992, this national park encompasses a massive area of 1,500 square km in the Nepalese Himalayas. It is noted as the only area on the planet where both snow-capped peaks and tropical forests are located within the boundaries of the same national park. Several high and rugged Himalayan peaks like the 27,766 ft tall Mount Makalu, the world’s fifth tallest mountain, are part of the national park. A diversity of habitats in this national park support rich and varied wildlife. 3,128 species of flowering plants grow here. 88 mammalian species, 440 species of birds, 43 species of reptiles, 16 amphibian species, 78 fish species, and more are found in this park. The snow leopard, Indian leopard, clouded leopard, and the Himalayan wolf are some of the park’s most notable fauna. Birds here range from raptors to white-necked storks to vibrant birds like the kingfishers and sunbirds.
7. Bardiya National Park
This national park of Nepal was founded in 1988 and covers an area of 968 square km. It is one of the least disturbed areas in the Terai region of Nepal. Nearly 70% of the park is forested. There are 839 species of flora growing in the park. The critically endangered gharial has a small population in the park. 23 other reptilian and amphibian species have been recorded at the park. The lakes of the park are home to about 125 species of fish. At least 53 mammalian species including the Bengal tiger, Gangetic dolphins, Asian elephant, rhinoceros, etc., are also found here. The avian fauna of the national park is also rich and diverse.
6. Shey Phoksundo National Park
This large national park covers an area of 3,555 square km in the Nepalese districts of Mugu and Dolpa. It was set up in 1984 and is the only trans-Himalayan national park in the country. The elevation of the park ranges from 2,130 m to 6,885 m. The spectacular Phoksundo Lake is a notable feature of the park. The Shey Phoksundo is regarded as one of the world’s most scenic areas. It has a highly diverse flora and fauna. Several threatened species like the snow leopard, leopard, Himalayan tahr, musk deer, blue sheep, etc., live here. Six species of reptiles, over 200 species of birds, and 29 species of butterflies are also found here. The national park also hosts some sacred Buddhist sites within its limits and also houses some of the world’s highest settlements.
5. Khaptad National Park
This national park of Nepal is located in the country’s Far-Western Region. It was established in 1984 and has an area of 225 square km. The elevation of the park varies between 1,400 m and 3,300 m. 567 species of flora grow here. Moorlands, mountain streams, and steep slopes characterize the landscape of the park. 287 species of birds, 23 mammalian species, and 23 species of reptiles and birds are found here. Some of the most notable birds of this park are the peregrine falcon, white-rumped vulture, and the Himalayan monal.
4. Rara National Park
This protected area was established in 1976 and occupies 106 square km in Nepal’s Jumla and Mugu districts. It is the smallest national park in Nepal. The Rara Lake, located at an elevation of 9,810 ft above sea-level, is the central feature of this park. The park is located in the Himalayan region of Nepal and offers astounding views of the surrounding mountains. 1,070 species of flora have been estimated to grow here. 51 mammalian species, 241 bird species, and a few species of other fauna have been recorded here. The most notable animals of the Rara National Park include the red panda, snow leopard, Indian leopard, Himalayan tahr, dhole, musk deer, etc.
3. Langtang National Park
This national park is Nepal’s first Himalayan Park. It was established in 1976 and covers an area of 1,710 square km. Its area encompasses 3 Nepalese districts in the central Himalayan region. Lake Gosainkunda, located at an elevation of 4,300 m, is a sacred lake found within the limits of the park. The highest point in the park is the 7,245 m tall Langtang Lirung.
2. Sagarmāthā National Park
This national park of Nepal is located in the Himalayas where it encompasses an area 1,148 square km. The most notable feature of the national park is the world’s tallest mountain, Mount Everest. The landscape of the park features tall, rugged mountains and gorges of the high Himalayas. The elevation of the park ranges from 2,845 m to 8,848 m. The vegetation of the park varies with altitude with the tops of high mountains remaining treeless and permanently snow-capped. At least 118 species of birds have been recorded here. The park is thus designated as an Important Bird Area. Some of the most noted birds of the area include the blood pheasant, Himalayan Monal, yellow-billed chough, and others. Mammalian species found here include the snow leopards, red panda, langurs, martens, Himalayan wolves, and others.
1. Chitwan National Park
The first national park of Nepal, the Chitwan National Park was founded in 1973. It has an area of 932 square km. In 1984, the park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park, located in the lowlands of the Inner Terai region, has altitudes ranging from 100 m to 815 m. The vegetation is dominated here by sal trees which cover nearly 70% of the park’s area. About 20% of the national park’s area is covered by grasslands and Terai-Duar savanna. The animal life here is diverse and feature over 700 species. Some of the notable reptilian inhabitants of the Chitwan are the king cobra, rock python, monitor lizard, and starred tortoise. Mugger crocodiles can be seen in the rivers and oxbow lakes of the park. The Chitwan National Park is also one of the last remaining safe refuges of the critically endangered gharials. The park is famous for its mammalian fauna which includes iconic species like the Bengal tiger, one-horned rhinoceros, Asian elephant, leopard, and others Many smaller wild cat species are found here. More than 78 mammalian species occur here. The bird life of the park is also equally rich. 543 species of birds have been recorded here including several globally threatened species.