In 1984 UNESCO world heritage site listed Chitwan national park, situated in the southern part of Churiya hills in inner Terai of Nepal. It is cover with forests, marshland and grassland and one of the best national parks to watch the wildlife in Asia, containing numerous animals, including highly endangers species of Royal Bengal tiger, Asian wild elephant, one horned rhinoceros and gharial crocodile. It lies in the altitude ranges from 100 m in the river valley to 815 m in the Churiya hills, bordered in the north and west is Narayanai and Rapti River, in the eastern part is the Parsa National Park and in the southern part the Valamiki National Park, the tiger reserve of India.
Etymological meaning of Chitwan is The heart of the Jungle(chit, the heart and wan, the jungle) which is the second largest home for one horned rhino in the world and well prominent area for spotting more than 500 species of birds. Also, it makes great sense to declare as the best territories to spot one horned rhino, but if you are lucky, you can spot leopard, wild elephant and sloth bear too. Also the majestic royal Bengal tigers may appear in your sights any time, which is the premier attraction.
Before 18th century this area was used as very famous hunting spot during winter for the ruling family of Nepal. They used to make camp and spend a couple of months for shooting hundreds of Tigers, rhinoceroses, leopard, sloth bear etc. and that was continued till 1957, the year of familiarized the country’s first conservation law to protect the rhinos and their habitat. Initially the national park was encompassed an area of 544 km2 in 1973 but in 1977, it was enlarged to its present area of 932 km2
The park’s headquarters is in Kasara, nearby crocodile and turtle breading center. Also it has a vulture breeding center too, to increase the prominent numbers of one of the gifted bird to our nature.
It has a tropical monsoon climate zone with high humidity. Monsoon starts at the end of the June and ends at the end of September. Mid of the October, monsoon clouds used to move away so it drops the humidity daily and temperature gradually decreases from 36°C to 18°C. In the nights, it may cool down to 5°C until the end of December if it rains. Then temperatures start rising gradually.
Sal tree is predominate in the forest of Chitwan with covering the area by70% in total. Chir pine ( Pinus roxburghii) also occupies the southern belt of Churia hills, associates with smaller flowering tree and shrub like Beleric (Terminalia bellirica), rosewood (Dalbergia Sissoo), axlewood (Angeissus latifolia), elephant apple (Dillenia indica) , Kapok (bombax ceiba) and rhino apples trees (Trewia nudiflora) , the fruits of which rhinos like much.Terai -Dura Savanna and grassland covers 20% part of the park and 50 species of grass found here including elephant grass (Saccharum ravenne).
The park covers a wide range of vegetation types. Chitwan National Park is a haunt of more than 700 species of wildlife and not yet fully surveyed number of butterfly, moth and insect species. Apart from king cobra and rock python, 17 other species of snakes, starred tortoise and monitor lizards occur. The Narayani-Rapti river system, their small tributaries and myriads of oxbow lakes is habitat for 113 recorded species of fish and mugger crocodiles. In the early 1950s, about 235 gharials occurred in the Narayani River. The population has dramatically declined to only 38 wild gharials in 2003. Every year gharial eggs are collected along the rivers to be hatched in the breeding center of the Gharial Conservation Project, where animals are reared to an age of 6–9 years. Every year young gharials are reintroduced into the Narayani-Rapti river system of which sadly only very few survive.
The National park is Park the home to at least 68 species of mammals. The king of the jungle is the Bengal Tiger. Between 1995 to 2000, it was the worst time to protect the wildlife including tiger but since few years the population has increased day to day because of success of conservation actions.
Leopards are the most predominant on the territory of the park. Also, sloth bears has large number in the park.Bengal fox, spotted linsangs, wild dogs , golden jackal, fishing cats, leopards cat, crab eating mongoose are main inhabitant of this park. Samber deer, wild boars, red muntjac, hog deer and chital are common animals which are found here.
Chitwan is a little paradise for birds. It is the home for more than 500 species of resident birds and more than 163 species of migrant birds. Among them , about two-thirds of birds are globally threatened. The greater spotted eagle, eastern imperial eagle, Pallas’s fish eagle are spotted in winter and Bengal pittas and sunbird are common guest during the monsoon for Chitwan.
Recreational activities in Chitwan national park
It is one of the most popular recreational destinations in Nepal. Visitors can enjoy their holidays here in various ways. Among them elephant safari which provides opportunity to get a closer view of the endangered one-horned rhinoceros, jungle walk which is ideal walking to expolar avifauna and and tropical fauna and also may encounter with various wild life, exploring thru village with culture sightseeing which is very fruitful to understand traditions, customs and lifestyle of one of the indigenous Tharu people, elephant bathing, Tharu culture dance, jeep safari which brings you in the middle of jungle and may encounter with animals inside the national park etc. are some of them. Meghauli and Sauraha are the two main entrances for this park. It is one of the richest wildlife zones in the world with 68 species of mammals, more than 500 species of birds, 56 species of herpetofauna, 126 species of fish have been recorded in this park.
Jungle Safari tour in Chitwan National park is one of the best ways to explore the wildlife of Chitwan National Park. Because of rich zone in wildlife , we can enjoy with the different mammals, reptiles, birds, insects, fishes, amphibians and much more. The major highlights of the Chitwan National Park are the endangered Asian one-horned rhinoceros, Royal Bengal Tigers and crocodile. Elephant safari and jeep safari as well as jungle walk and cannoning are some highlights of the national park which offer us to spot wildlife including, one-horned rhinoceros, deer, sloth bears and depending on luck, may we encounter with leopard and Majestic Royal Bengal Tiger. Tharu Village Tour is another attraction of this tour, which helps us to know about the Tharu culture, tradition and their way of the living. Tharu cultural program is another highlight to explore the Chitwan.