Name: Bardiya National Park (IUCN Category: II)
Area (km2): 968.00
Buffer Zone (km2): 327.00 (IUCN Category: VI)
Bardiya National park is the largest national park in the lowland Terai covering an area of 968 sq.km. The park situated in Nepal's Western Terai was established for protecting the representative ecosystems and conserving the habitat of tiger and its prey species. Initially, a small area was gazetted as the Karnali Wildlife Reserve in 1976. At that time, 1500 households of the Babai valley were relocated outside the park allowing the vegetation and wildlife to flourish. In 1982, it was renamed as Bardiya Wildlife Reserve, and in 1984 it was extended to its current size. The reserve was given the status of a National Park in 1988. Greater One-horned Rhinoceros were translocated from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park in 1986, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. In 1997, an area of 327 km2 surrounding the park was declared as a buffer zone, which consists of forests and private lands. The park and local communities jointly manage the buffer zone. Together they initiate community development activities and manage natural resources in the buffer zones. An elephant ride provides a different view of the park as one can go off the main trail, Morning and late afternoon is the ideal time to go on a ride. Karnali river is the suitable home for Gangetic dolphin. Babai valley is a majestic place to visit where flagship Rhino, tiger, and elephant can be cited in the wilderness site.
Babai valley: The Babai valley extending from Parewa Odar to Chepang Bridge was included In the park in 1984. The pristine valley is characterized by rich biodiversity. The major vegetation and forest types are wooded grassland and the riverine forest. The translocated rhinoceros from Chitwan were reintroduced in this valley. The luxurious forests in the east of the park also provide a good habitat and corridor for several wildlife species. The Karnali river is home to the endangered gharial crocodile and marsh mugger. The blue waters also provide habitat for the endangered gangetic dolphin. Large mahasher, a game fish, is considered an excellent catch. The fast flowing water also provide excellent rafting expeditions. Riverine forests along with the shores of the river create the prime habitat for birds such as herons, egrets, black-necked stork, and little pratincole. The tharu ethnic community is native to this area. Traditionally they are subsistence farmers and practice their own tribal religious. Handicrafts made by the community members could be bought as souvenirs.
Climate: The park has three distinct seasons, winter, summer, and monsoon. Form October through early April, the weather is dry. The days are warm and the nights are cool and pleasant. From April to June the temperatures gradually rises upwith a peak temperature up to 45 0c in May. The hot sticky days give way to the monsoon rains in July that lasts until September.
Flora and Fauna: The park offers a variety of experiences in its vast undisturbed wilderness. About 70% of the forest consists of sal tree with a mixture of grassland and riverine forests. Sal leaves are used as traditional plates in festival and religious offering. The park is home to endangered animals such as the Royal Bengal tiger, wild elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, swamp deer, and black buck, The other endangered species include gharialand marsh mugger crocodiles and gangetic dolphin. Endangered birds found in the park are Bengal florican, lesser florican and sarus crane. More that 30 different mammals, over 230 species of birds and several species of snakes, lizard and fishes have been recorded In the park area. In addition to the resident species, several migratory birds visit the park.
Facilities: Museum and Tharu culture are available for visitors at HQ. Telephone and mobile phones can be used in several areas of the park. If you are traveling by private vehicle make sure that you have ample amount of fuel. Be advised to carry a comprehensive first-aid kit including medicines. There is a community health post at Thakurdwara near the park headquarter. You can spend your nights at the lodges in the surrounding areas of the park. These lodges provide service to tourists.
How to get there: You can take a bus or take the flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj.From Nepalgunj bus services are available to the park HQ at Thakurdwara during the dry season.