A safari in Nepal brings you up close to some of the largest and most magnificent mammals in the world, such as the wild Asiatic elephant and the Royal Bengal Tiger.
But the critically endangered One-Horned Indian Rhino is Nepal’s most iconic species.
The One-Horned Indian Rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis) is one of the oldest species in existence on the planet. No, it’s not quite a unicorn, but it did separate from the family Equidae in the Eocene era!
Unlike its African counterpart, this rhino has only one horn, which may well be a rather large thorn in its side, since poachers hunt these rhinos mercilessly for their horns, which some communities believe have terrific medicinal value. +
After Kaziranga in India, Chitwan National Park in Nepal has the highest number of one-horned rhinos in the world.
Thanks to a massive conservation effort, the numbers have not only increased to about 600-700 rhinos in Chitwan, but a few of them have also been relocated to Bardiya National Park, where rhinos had been hunted to extinction. The Terai-Duar grasslands are ideal rhino territory, and Chitwan is a great park to photograph or film rhinos in the wild.
The Rhinos in Chitwan are placid creatures, unless they are antagonised. Then they’re quite the opposite and a rhino charge can be lethal. Mothers are extremely protective, and will not let you get anywhere near their young ones.
Wild Elephants and rhinos have a wary respect for one another and tend to avoid trespassing on each other’s territory as much as possible.
Tigers usually avoid a tussle with a full-grown adult as rhinos are ferocious fighters, but may sometimes try to separate a calf from its mother and kill it. Ultimately, the rhinos’ greatest predators are the human poachers who hunt rhinos for their horn.
To combat the poaching menace, Nepal deployed its army and its forest wardens to hunt down the poachers.
Today, wildlife tourism in Nepal’s jungles, and the government has undertaken an extensive awareness drive to demonstrate how saving the beast can earn the locals more revenue and goodwill than poaching.
In addition to taking poachers to task, Nepal has also launched a massive drive to preserve the rhino’s habitat. Rhinos need a lush and thriving grassland, and there have been several conservation initiatives which work with rural Nepalese to prevent overgrazing by livestock and balance out the needs of the wilderness with agriculture.
The alluvial flood-plains and river systems that snake through Chitwan are critical to the rhino’s survival. Rhinos need water to wallow in and cool off, and the fertile alluvial soil gives rise to abundant fodder for the animal. The challenge lies in the fact that animals such as tigers, rhinos and elephants need an enormous range to move around, and frequently, human-animal conflict becomes inevitable.
While Chitwan is the rhino’s stamping ground, Bardiya is known for its wild elephants. While some herds are resident, many herds migrate over the border from India to cross into Nepal.
Nepal also had a large population of captive elephants, many of which were being used for tourist rides. However, a new law has been passed recently which bans elephants from being exploited for tourism.
Nepal’s Terai-Duar ecosystem is ideal for animals like the elephant, tiger and rhino.
As you explore these jungles, you will also come across a large number of herbivores, carnivores, reptiles and amphibians. In some remote corners of the jungle you also find Red Pandas, Blue Sheep and the Himalayan Tahr. Chitwan and Bardiya both have incredible birdlife and you can observe several rare species that inhabit these ecosystems. The Bengal Fox, Tibetan Wolf, and the crocodile are some of the other predators in the Nepalese wilderness.
The best way to explore these parks is on a jeep safari with one of our experienced naturalists.
In Bardiya, you can also choose to go on a boat safari and observe a wide variety of waterfowl and the animals as they come to the riverbanks. Nepal’s guides, naturalists and trackers are highly experienced and have a keen sense of where the animals are headed. Tribes like the Tharu, who live in close proximity to the jungle, are known for their understanding and prowess with wild animals, as well as their movements in the forest.
For those who enjoy rugged wilderness, and adventure outdoors, Nepal’s jungles offer plenty of highlights. Wildlife photographers can capture stunning images of rhinos and elephants in their natural habitat.
Encounters Asia is happy to assist you with making all the arrangements, permits and logistics for a professional photography or film shoot. For amateur photographers, our guides and naturalists are experienced and can take you into different parts of the park for the best shots and best light at different times of the day.
Grab your binoculars and cameras and your safari gear as we help you to plan a fantastic jungle expedition in Nepal.