Nepal is home to immensely diverse wildlife and has a wide variety of animals across the country’s differing climatic conditions, varying from tropical to arctic in different regions of the country. Nepal has become known as a biodiversity hotspot and no longer has any natural habitats remaining; instead the country has established several national parks and reserves in order to provide protection for the diverse flora and fauna found within it. Many of the national parks such as Chitwan are protected by the army and they have bases inside the national park, which operate regular patrols to stop poachers.
There are more than 185 species of mammals found within Nepal including the Bengal tiger, Bengal fox, clouded leopard, Indian rhinoceros, Indian elephant, marbled cat, red panda, snow leopard and Tibetan wolf. The animals that have come to call Nepal their home aren’t confined to one part of the country, but can be found in a variety of habitats across Nepal, from the Terai plains and thick forests to the snowy Himalayan Mountains.
You are likely to encounter a selection of exotic animals in Nepal’s dense Terai jungles including the Asiatic elephant, Royal Bengal, the one-horned rhinoceros, monkey, hyena, jackal, antelope, wild boar, sloth bear and spotted deer. I was lucky enough to see a black rhino, spotted deer, crocodile and wild boar in Chitwan National Park. The one-horned black rhino is commonly sighted, so most people will get to see a rhino on their game drive.
The western Terai jungles are home to swamp deer and wild buffalo can be found in the Koshi Tappu region, whilst endangered blackbucks can be found in the Bardia Region. Nepal even has its own variety of dolphins which can be found in the Narayani and Karnali fresh water rivers and the elusive snow leopard has the vast Himalayan region as its domain. Other mammals living in high altitude areas are blue sheep, musk deer, yaks and Himalayan tahr.
Nepal is not only famous for its impressive array of large mammals, but also for its extensive selection of birdlife. In total Nepal is home to 900 species of bird, 32 of which are globally threatened. Bardia National Park in particular harbours a wide variety of birds and is home to 407 different species.