Nepal’s Unique Flora and Fauna

By Royal Mountain Travel December 18, 2012

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Nepal has nine national parks and three wildlife reserves where one will come across a diverse range of flora and fauna.

FLORA
Rhododendron:Over 30 sub species of Rhododendron arboreum are found in Nepal. The Rhododendron arboreumssp. arboreum which have rose-red flowers and are hardy up to about -10°C, are known as ‘Lali Gurans‘ in Nepali and is the national flower. Rhododendronarboreum ssp. cinnamomeum can withstand -15°C to -18°C temperatures.

Orchids: There are 386 orchid varieties in Nepal. Orchids growing at higher altitudes typically bloom during the summer monsoon. At altitudes of 2500–5000 m in Dolpa of far-western Nepal, is found Dactylorhinza hatagirea which is prized for its medicinal properties. Flickingrea macrei and Pholidota articulate are also orchids that are highly valued for their invigorating properties.

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FAUNA

The Royal Bengal Tiger: Nepal has three protected zones with 150 to 250 tigers. Males may be 270-310 cm long while females measure 240–265 cm. Nepal’s male tigers weigh in around 235 kg (males) while females may weigh about 140 kg each.

The One Horned Rhino: They number about 400 plus in the Chitwan National Park. They can weigh upto 2700 kg each. There are reportedly 31 rhinos in Bardiya National Park and six in the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.

Bharal or Himalayan Blue Sheep: A cross between a sheep and a goat, their rounded and smooth horns curve backwards. They are usually found grazing at altitudes of over 14,000 ft. Moving about in large herds, they can scramble up and around the roughest hillsides.

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The Yak: They can climb upto as high as 20,000 ft. Weighing upto 550 kg each, the males are called yaks while the females are known as naks or dris in the Sherpa language. Besides carrying heavy loads, yaks also plow fields and provide milk, butter and meat as well as wool for clothing and dung for fuel. Their bones are made into various artifacts while ropes, sacks, blankets, and tents are made from their hair.

The Snow Leopard: They live between 3,000 and 5,500 m above sea level. Body length ranges from 75 to 130 cm, with a tail nearly as long. They have dark grey to black rosettes on their body and small spots on their heads and larger ones on their legs and tail.

 

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Danfe: Inhabiting the high regions of the Himalayan range, the Monal Pheasant, or Danfe, is Nepal’s national bird. Adult males have multicolored plumage with long metallic green crests while females are dull in color. Females have a prominent white patch on the fore neck and a white strip on the tail.

Himalayan Griffon Vulture: Breeding on crags in the Himalayan mountains, they lay a single egg at a time. They have a wingspan of 102-114 in with adults being 41-43 in long. They have a bald white head, a white neck ruff, yellow bill, and short tail feathers.

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Ghariyal Crocodile. Spotted at Chitwan National Park. Photo by Ankita/Flickr

The Gharial: Mature male gharials have a bulbous growth on the nose. Colored a light olive tan with oblique dark blotches running down the body and the tail, gharials can be five to six meters in length. The females lay their eggs on sandy riverbanks which the indigenous Tharus of the area believe have medicinal and aphrodisiacal value.

Title Photo of Rhododendron by Sanam Sherpa/Flickr

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