The Suklaphanta National Park is named after the dazzling open grassland, which is called ‘Phanta’ in Nepali. The National Park has the largest grassland in the Far Western Terai of Nepal. It is also home to Nepal’s maybe even Asia’s largest population of swamp deer. Shuklaphanta National Park is a protected area covering 305 km2 (118 sq mi) of open grassland, forests, riverbeds and tropical wetlands at an altitude of 174 to 1,386 m (571 to 4,547 ft).
Suklaphanta National Park is located in Kanchanpur district. It’s a southern and western boundary is connects with India. In the north, it is extended up to the east-west highway. The eastern boundary of this national park is formed by the Chaudhar River by the International boundary pillars in the forest and partly by the Mahakali River. Also, it is connected to an Indian Tiger Reserve Kisanpur Wildlife Sanctuary to the south. The Syali River forms the eastern boundary southward to the international border with India, which demarcates the reserve’s southern and western boundary.
The protected was a hunting ground for the monarchs and ruling class of Nepal. In 1969 it was declared as a Royal Hunting Reserve.
The area was later gazetted in 1973 as the Royal SuklaPhanta Wildlife Reserve in 1973 and initially comprised of 155 sq km. It was later expanded to its current size in the 1980s. Later a buffer zone of 243.5 sq km was added inMay 2004 and was officially changed into a national park in 2017.
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Vegetation of Suklaphanta
Vegetation types primarily include sal forest and sal savanna, which is part of the continuum between climax forest and grassland. The park supports the largest population of Bengal florican Houbaropsis bengalensis. Botanists have recorded over 700 species of flowering plants which include about 553 types of vascular plants, 18 varieties of pteridophytes, 410 dicots, and 125 examples of monocots.
Birds and Animal in Suklaphanta National Park
It is a natural habitat for the endangered animals like Royal Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, swamp deer, hispid hare, and sloth bear. The Great one-horned rhinoceros were also translocated from the Chitwan National Park to establish their population in the park.
As per a study in 2013, the park housed 2,710 swamp deer which is the highest population in the world. A camera-trap also spotted the presence of a rusty-spotted cat in 2016.
The wildlife reserve is also a popular site for birdwatching and recorded the flight of 423 species of birds. The park marks the highest population of Bengal floricans in all over Nepal.
Some of the birds spotted in the national park are chestnut-capped babbler, yellow-eyed babbler, rufous-rumped grassbird, Oriental pied hornbill, Rufous-bellied eagle, and spot-bellied eagle owl, to name some.
The permanent resident birds of this area are the slender-billed vulture, grey-headed fish eagle, white-rumped vulture, and lesser adjutant.
Bristled grassbird, painted stork, and sarus crane migrate during summer while rufous-gorgeted flycatcher, white-capped water redstart, and the greater racquet-tailed drongo visit the park in winter.
The climate in Suklaphanta National Park
The park experiences a subtropical monsoonal climate with an annual rainfall of about 62.2 in (1,579 m). The monsoon season lasts from June to September and is heavy during August. The humidity of the area increases with the start of pre-monsoon.
Winter in the protected area lasts from December to January, and the temperature during daytime falls below 7°C. From February the temperature rises and exceeds 25 °C in March and reaches up to 42 °C in April.
There is regular public bus service from Dhangadhi to Mahendranagar (2h). The park’s headquarter is 8 km southwest of Mahendranagar and can be easily reached by rickshaw