Shuklaphanta National Park

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Shuklaphanta National Park
शुक्लाफाँटा राष्ट्रिय निकुन्ज
IUCN category II (national park)
Ranitaal1.JPG
Rani Tal, a lake inside Shuklaphanta National Park
LocationNepal, Province No. 7
Nearest cityBhimdatta
Coordinates28°50′25″N 80°13′44″E / 28.8402°N 80.2290°E / 28.8402; 80.2290Coordinates: 28°50′25″N 80°13′44″E / 28.8402°N 80.2290°E / 28.8402; 80.2290
Area305 km2 (118 sq mi)
Established1976 (2017 - National Park)
Governing bodyDepartment of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation
WebsiteShuklaphanta National Park

The Shuklaphanta National Park is a protected area in the Terai of the Far-Western Region, Nepal. It covers the area of 305 km2 (118 sq mi). The area is covered by open grassland, forests, riverbeds and tropical wetlands. It is at an altitude of 174 to 1,386 m (571 to 4,547 ft).[1] It was established in 1976 as Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. A small part of the reserve is in the northern side of the East-West Highway. It is there to create a path for seasonal Migration of wildlife into the Sivalik Hills. The Syali River forms the eastern boundary of this national park. The international border with India makes the national park’s southern and western boundary.[2]

The Indian Tiger Reserve Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary is in the southern part of this reserve. It is a protected area of 439 km2 (169 sq mi). It represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Sukla Phanta-Kishanpur. It covers a 1.897 km2 (0.732 sq mi) block of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests.[3]

The protected area is part of the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion. It is one of the best-conserved examples of floodplain grassland.[4] It is included in the Terai Arc Landscape.[5]

History[change | change source]

Map of Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve and Bufferzone, Nepa

The area was a hunting ground for Nepal's ruling class. It was declared a Royal Hunting Reserve in 1969. In 1973, the area was changed into Royal Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve. At first it had an area of 155 km2 (60 sq mi). The area was made bigger to its present size in the late 1980s.[6] A buffer zone of 243.5 km2 (94.0 sq mi) was added in May 2004.[1] In 2017, the status of the protected area was changed to a national park.

The name Suklaphanta comes from one of the grasslands found inside the protected area.[7] The main grassland called Sukla Phanta is the largest patch of continuous grassland in Nepal. It covers an area of about 16 km2 (6.2 sq mi).[2]

The jungles of the Shuklaphanta National Park were once the area of an ancient kingdom. Ruins of that kingdom can still be seen in some places. Near Rani Tal, a lake in the park, a brick girdle is still there. The girdle measures 1,500 m (59,000 in) in Circumference. It is considered by locals to be the remains of the fort of Tharu king Singpal.[8]

Climate[change | change source]

The climate of the region is subtropical monsoonal. The mean annual rainfall in this area is 1,579 mm (62.2 in). The rainfall occurs from June to September and is highest in August. The winter months of December and January are fairly cold. The daytime temperatures during this time of year is 7–12 °C (45–54 °F). Sometimes frost can also be seen. From February onwards temperatures rise up to 25 °C (77 °F) in March. The temperature reaches upto 42 °C (108 °F) by end of April. When the first pre-monsoon rains reach the area in May, humidity increases.[6][7]

Plants[change | change source]

Imperata cylindrica is one of the main grass species found in the park's phantas

Around 700 species of plants are there in the park. They include 553 vascular plants, 18 pteridophytes, 410 dicots and 125 monocots.[1] Grassland covers almost half the reserve's vegetation. The main grass species are Imperata cylindrica and Heteropogon contortus. khagra reed (Phragmites karka) and Saccharum spontaneum. They grow in the marshes around the seven small lakes. The main forest type is sal. Khair and sissoo grow by the side of rivers. The grassland being covered by trees is a major threat to the long-term existence of the main plants. Trees cover any grasses growing under them, mainly those that need more sunlight. Tree seeds are spread all over the grasslands. They mostly germinate near existing trees. Also, trees help in the growth of shade-loving grasses and prevent the growth of sun-loving species. This process of succession usually converts grassland into woodland over time.[2]

Animals[change | change source]

Monitor lizard
Swamp deer
Yellow-eyed babbler
A grey-headed fish eagle

The open grasslands and wetlands covers large area around the lakes. This area is home to different kinds of animals.[6] In the rivers, lakes and ponds 28 fish species and 12 reptile and amphibian species were recorded. recorded.[1] These include mahseer and rohu, mugger crocodile, Indian rock python, monitor lizard, Indian cobra, common krait and Oriental ratsnake.[2]

Mammals[change | change source]

Current checklists include 46 mammal species. Among them 18 are protected under CITES such as the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sloth bear, swamp deer, elephant and hispid hare. Great one-horned rhinoceros were moved from Chitwan National Park.[1][6]

The gathering of swamp deer in the park's grasslands is the largest in the world. The population of hispid hare may be of international significance.[2] As of 2013, there were 2170 swamp deer in the reserve.[9] In spring 2016, a rusty-spotted cat was photographed by a camera-trap for the first time in the protected area.[10]

Birds[change | change source]

A total of 423 bird species has been recorded. The park supports the highest population of Bengal floricans in Nepal. It is the western limit of swamp francolin, Jerdon's bushchat, rufous-rumped grassbird, chestnut-capped babbler and Jerdon's babbler. For yellow-eyed babbler it is the north-western limit and it is the eastern limit of Finn's weaver. It is also the most important regular wintering site of Hodgson's bushchat. Forest birds include spot-bellied eagle owl, dusky eagle owl, rufous-bellied eagle and Oriental pied hornbill. The forests are also important for great slaty woodpecker and white-naped woodpecker. The white-rumped vulture, slender-billed vulture, lesser adjutant, grey-headed fish eagle, darter and rufous-rumped grassbird are breeding residents. Sarus crane, painted stork and bristled grassbird are summer visitors. Greater racquet-tailed drongo, white-capped water redstart, rusty-tailed flycatcher and rufous-gorgeted flycatcher are winter visitors but they are not common.[2]

During a Survey carried out in January 2005, a total of 19 Hodgson's bushchats were recorded. A year later in 2006 only 8 males were recorded.[11]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Bhuju, U. R., Shakya, P. R., Basnet, T. B., Shrestha, S. (2007). Nepal Biodiversity Resource Book. Protected Areas, Ramsar Sites, and World Heritage Sites. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, in cooperation with United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Kathmandu, Nepal. ISBN 978-92-9115-033-5
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Baral, H. S., Inskipp, C. (2009). The Birds of Sukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, Nepal. Our Nature (2009) 7: 56−81
  3. Wikramanayake, E. D., Dinerstein, E., Robinson, J. G., Karanth, K.U., Rabinowitz, A., Olson, D., Mathew, T., Hedao, P., Connor, M., Hemley, G., Bolze, D. (1999). Where can tigers live in the future? A framework for identifying high-priority areas for the conservation of tigers in the wild. Pages 255−272 in: Seidensticker, J., Christie, S., Jackson, P. (eds.) Riding the Tiger. Tiger Conservation in human-dominated landscapes. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. hardback ISBN 0-521-64057-1, paperback ISBN 0-521-64835-1.
  4. Dinerstein, E. (2003). The Return of the Unicorns: The Natural History and Conservation of the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros. Columbia University Press, Columbia
  5. Bhattarai, P. (2013). Threats on grassland ecosystem services: a case from Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. Nepal Journal of Science and Technology 13 (2): 159–166.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Majupuria, T.C., Kumar, R. (1998). Wildlife, National Parks and Reserves of Nepal. S. Devi, Saharanpur and Tecpress Books, Bangkok. ISBN 974-89833-5-8
  7. 7.0 7.1 Timilsina, N., Heinen, J.T. (2008). Forest Structure Under Different Management Regimes in the Western Lowlands of Nepal. Journal of Sustainable Forestry 26 (2): 112−131.
  8. Reed, D., McConnachie, J. (2002). The Rough Guide to Nepal 5. Rough Guides.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. Yadav, R. P., Thaguna, S. S., Sah, J. P. (2000). "Grasslands in Royal Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve: status, importance and management". In Richard, C., Basnet, K., Sah, J. P., Raut, Y. (ed.). Grassland ecology and management in protected areas of Nepal. Proceedings of a Workshop, Royal Bardia National Park, Thakurdwara, Bardia, Nepal, 15-19 March, 1999. Volume 2: Terai protected areas 2000. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. pp. 128−137.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. Lamichhane, B.R., Kadariya, R., Subedi, N., Dhakal, B.K., Dhakal, M., Thapa, K. and Acharya, K.P. (2016). "Rusty-spotted Cat: 12th cat species discovered in Western Terai of Nepal". Cat News (64): 30–33. 
  11. Yadav, B. P. (2007). Status, Distribution and Habitat Preferences of Hodgon's Bushchat (Saxicola insignis) in Grassland of Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve of Far-Western Development Region of Nepal. Report submitted to Oriental Birds Club, United Kingdom

Other websites[change | change source]