Birdwatching is one of thrilling adventure vacation activities that necessitates exploring into the deepest parts of the diverse wildlife for a better observation of the mystical birds. And what better place can there be for birdwatching on earth other than Nepal where one can find more than 10% of world’s bird species?
Nepal is mostly known for its mountains, hills, valleys, and lakes, but it is important to remember that Nepal is also a paradise for people with passion for bird watching. Despite covering only 0.1 percent of the world’s geographical area, the bird species that have been found in Nepal counts to 886 birds, out of total 8672 bird species worldwide.
Among them, 168 species are in the ‘nationally threatened’ status while 42 are in the ‘threatened’ status globally and 35 species are on the verge of extinction. Owing to that, Nepal has been able to establish a reputation as a dream destination in the birdwatching community.
Birdwatching can be traced to 1980s in Nepal when Late Hari Sharanan Kaji, a prime aspirant for initialization of birdwatching, practically started the trend of observing birds in Nepal. Sharanan Kaji is also the founder of Bird Conservation Nepal which was established in 1982 to conserve birds and biodiversity throughout Nepal.
Birdwatching has become a trending and fascinating adventure for both the locals and the tourists visiting Nepal in recent days. Every year the number of birdwatchers was increasing rapidly with almost 8 percent foreign visitors coming Nepal solely for birdwatching during the peak popularity.
The COVID-19 pandemic had taken toll on that number, however, with the decline in COVID-19 cases, distribution of vaccines and relaxation of border rules, the birdwatching industry is recovering from the tragedy.
“The number of tourists for jungle safari are slowly increasing. The people come to enjoy the whole wildlife of the jungle, especially the rhinos, so it is hard to distinguish the number of visitors just for birdwatching,” said Ganesh Tiwari, an information officer of Chitwan National Park and conservationist.
The number of tourists and locals that seek to venture into Nepal’s territory to experience gratification from nature is increasing, and that goes without saying in the birdwatching industry too. There are several wildlife reserves and national parks in Nepal such as Koshi Tappu wildlife reserve, Chitwan National Park, Bardiya national park, Shuklaphanta national park, Parsa national park, Rara national park and so on.
These national parks and wildlife reserves offer a great range of wildlife exploration and incredible experience for anyone who seeks to explore the world of the birds and animals or by listening for bird sounds.
Ramesh Pokharel, a bird conservationist and nature lover, explains that Nepal has been gaining fame for birdwatching as several tourists are visiting Nepal, exclusively to watch birds.
“The number of researchers and bird enthusiasts are entering Nepal for the purpose of observing and doing research on them. The geography of Nepal is at favor since the dense forest and wetland area are best for birds’ habitation,” said Pokharel.
Each wildlife reserve and national park offer its diverse range of species of birds and animals for exploration, here are a few mentions of wildlife reserves and national parks in Nepal that will satisfy your temptation for birdwatching.
Koshi Tappu wildlife reserve:
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies on the eastern part of Nepal with an area of 175 sq km and stretching into Saptari and Sunsari districts. The wildlife reserve is best known for 31 different species of mammals including Asian elephant, golden jackal, wild water buffalo, wild boar, hog deer, and spotted deer.
The number of birds under the protection of the wildlife reserve is 485 bird species and some of them are Indian nightjar, Pallas’s fish eagle, dusky eagle owl, watercock, and large adjutant stork.
The activity of birdwatching in Koshi Tappu wildlife reserve provides people with an opportunity to research and learn about the birds in their natural. Similarly, the wildlife reserve is also famous for unique, exotic and endangered birds that migrate during winter season every year. The birdwatching at the sunsets are quite popular in Koshi Tappu where people can see a variety of both resident and migratory birds.
Chitwan National Park:
Chitwan National Park is best known for the jeep safari into the vast jungle and observing the protected animals along with the many species of birds. The park stretches over Chitwan, Parsa, Makwanpur, and Nawalpur districts and is recognized as a World Heritage Site. The national park is really popular for the wildlife excursion as it is the among bird watchers since it is close to both Kathmandu and Pokhara – both prime tourist destinations of the country.
“We can find more than 540 bird species in Chitwan National Park and the park is also home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and the endangered one-horned rhinoceros. Some of the species are Grey-crowned crane, Slender-billed Babbler and Bengal Florican,” informs Tiwari.
Bardiya National Park:
Bardiya National Park is situated in Province-5 of Nepal in the Bardiya District. The national park is home to more than half of the nation’s threatened birds while mainly known for being the home of Bengal Florican – a bird species on verge of extinction.
Silver eared mesia, sarus crane, white-rumped vulture, jungle prinia, are some of the birds one can witness in this protected area. As per the national park’s official website, several migratory birds can also be seen in the area. Bardiya National Park shelters to 542 bird species, including several internationally vulnerable bird species that are mostly seen along the banks of the Karnali river, Babai river, Badhaiya lake and Satkhalauwa lake.
Shuklaphanta National park:
One of the biggest grassland regions in Terai region, the Shuklaphanta National Park is located in far-eastern Nepal and covers area of Kanchanpur district. The park is a unique one as it organizes program to raise awareness about endangered species of birds in which the locals and the park employees engage in bird watching activities. Some of the significant endangered birds of Shuklaphanta National Park includes Spiny Babbler, Bengal Florican, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Ibisbill, Bristled Grassbird and Finns Weaver. The national park is full of open grasslands, tropical wetlands, jungles and riverbanks, making it into the birdwatching destination list of bird lovers.