Royal Bardia National Park Travel Guide

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Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

Nepal Safari

Where the wildlife run free

The government has decided to double the size of BNP, which presently spreads over an area covering 968 square kilometres. This step has been taken taking into account the importance of the wild life habitat, writes Gunaraj Luintel

As you enter the lush jungle, the air turns different. Once inside, you can almost tangibly feel the smell of plants and wild animals. The growing air of anticipation and fascination releases you from daily worry and anxiety. The protected forest areas have been fulfilling this particular necessity for many years. And without conservation, Bardia National Park(BNP)would look naked and bare.

It’s been 25 years since BNP was established. The local Tharu people call the park ‘Kail Pahuran’ meaning a "gift of nature" and conservation works for future generations have been in full swing for the past number of years. "It’s gaining popularity as an open museum of the plains featuring wild species", says Shyam Bajimaya, the park's chief warden.

The name of Royal Chitwan National Park tops the list when it comes to Jungle Safari. But the resorts and lodges opened inside the park have affected the natural environment thereby losing its charm. It’s said that these wild animals that are easily spotted, have become domesticated to the extent that they even ‘pose’ in front of cameras for tourists.

In contrast BNP is still in its virgin state. It hasn’t reached the stage where animals pose for photographs. The animals that roam freely in the jungle can be encountered only for a brief moment, then they leap and vanish into the dense forest. And that single glimpse remains etched on the tourist’s mind forever.

The government has decided to double the size of BNP, which presently spreads over an area covering 968 square kilometres. This step has been taken taking into account the importance of the wild life habitat. The animals have their own zones in the jungle and if they encroach upon one another’s territories, they start fighting. Either one has to die or the loser has to vacate the place. This is especially common among tigers whose population in the park is 50. With their increasing numbers comes the necessity for habitats.

The Royal Bengal tiger, a mighty symbol of all that is wild on earth, is the most attractive of animals. One gets a sense of satisfaction just by getting a glimpse of it. It is in the park officers agenda to develop the RBNP into habitats for the tiger, rhino, elephant, spotted deer, deer, wild boar and birds. Recognizing the Babai valley to be a safe habitat for rhinos, the translocation of Chitwan’s rhinos has already started.

Bajimaya says, "We have drafted a park management plan to avoid the kind of human prosecution/encroachment rampant in the Royal Chitwan National Park. We have decided not to allow resorts into the jungle".

Unique & Exclusive Nepal Wildlife Resort is situated at the best location at Bardia National Park on the bank of one of the tributaries of the Karnali River. NWR have a view tower where guest can sit quietly & in protected comfort, watch the wildlife. It provides the unique opportunity to observe wildlife from a close range. The atmosphere of the resort provide is clean and comfortable with the possibilities of staying in lodge accommodations. Staff consists of competent professionals dedicated to provide with the necessary arrangement to make wildlife experience a unique and memorable one. Tiger Tops, infamous for its Jungle Safaris, received license to camp inside the area. Even after huge pleas not to let any resorts in and to stop human movement after a certain period were made, the authorities still issued a license to such an organisation. To cater to the needs of tourists visiting the park, more than a dozen resorts and lodges have already opened up outside the park.

To lure in the tourists, the lodge owners have come up with interesting packages. Rhino lodge in Bardiya offers a ‘Rhino Surprise Package’ at a cheaper rate to draw in tourists. The tour operators feel the need to promote Bardiya for its virgin forests and the still existing native Tharu culture.

"The rates we have been offering tourists are very cheap", says sales and marketing manager of Rhino lodge, Yogesh Sapkota(left). "We also have a lodge in Chitwan but the place has become crowded similar to Thamel. It’s difficult to see other animals apart from rhinos in Chitwan but in Bardia one can see at least more than one deer easily. The forest is virgin, pure and safe".

Twenty-five years ago, in 1969, an expanse of land measuring 348 sq.kms, between the Thakur and Karnali river banks, was reserved as the protected area bringing in the start of conservation. In 1975, it was declared as the Royal Karnali Wildlife Reserve. In 1978, it was converted into Royal Bardia Wildlife Reserve and was extended from Babai valley to East Chisapani a total of 968 sq.kms. In 1988, the park was renamed Royal Bardiya National Park.

According to the park figures, there are 54 mammal species, 24 reptiles, over 60 fish and over 400 bird species in the park. The park is also home to two main rivers. The Geruwa River is a shelter for fresh water dolphins, ghariyal, the maghar crocodile and other water animals. The Karnali river flowing outside the park is also equally attractive to tourists.

Despite RBNP’s low revenue, its chief warden says since there is a high chance of spotting many wild animals, it has a great future, so much so that RBNP is on its way to becoming Asia’s largest reserve.

Local reservations against the reserve are not too audible. Through this ‘gift of nature’, the residents of the park’s buffer zone are assured about the development that is coming. The reserve has given Rs40,000 to the Village Development Committee this year for community development. This is definitely not a large amount. The locals near the park have to bear the brunt. They have infact readily welcomed the increase in activities which have come due to the park.

"We are happy to see people coming", says 48 year old Bam Bahadur Bik who lives in Manau Ghat, close to the sanctuary. Though there are no direct benefits from tourists visiting the sanctuary, local products could find a market, job opportunities could be created and the local tradition and culture could be promoted. When the lodges invite the locals to perform in the evening, the tourists enjoy the show and get an opportunity to experience an entirely different culture.

In 1999-2000, about 6000 tourists visited the park. Between 2000-2001 it has gone up to 9000. According to the park’s ranger, Ramesh Kumar Thapa, for the past 4 to 5 years, the percentage of tourists has increased by 4 to 5 percent. "Now that the area has been developed, the animals habitat has extended and the locals will also benefit", Thapa adds.

Keeping all possibilities in mind, the Rhino lodge has formed attractive packages. In order to help send tourists to this area, Sapkota is planning to give a free tour to travel agents. "Bardiya is an ocean of wildlife, therefore it’s necessary to give cheaper packages to boost tourism", he says.

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August 10, 2005 new by nepalsafari

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