Chitwan National Park, Nepal
EXCERTP FROM ABOUT LIFE, SUMMER 1997 ISSUE
"We set out at dawn while morning dews were still fresh. We divided ourselves into five groups, each riding an elephant, and let the native guides lead our journey into the forest¡K..
We were at the Royal Chitwan National Park in the Terai, Neapal. Terai is a lowland which extends to the northwestern boundary of Nepal. It comprises rivers, woodlands, grasslands, and a wide variety of wildlife.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Nepal Royal Family was very fond of hunting in the Terai. By the 1950s, hill people started to move down to the lowlands. Much of the woodland was converted into farmland and large numbers of wild animals were killed. It was not until 1973 that the Nepalese Government determined to protected the remaining wildlife and their habitats in the Terai and throughout Nepal. The Royal Chitwan National Park, 9,000 sq. km in size (nearly nine times the size of Hong Kong!), was set up, and the Nepalese Army now patrols the park. Over the years, Chitwan has recaptured much of its natural beauty and life.
Suddenly, our guides started making bird-like calls from afar, which implied that they had tracked down some animals. We immediately headed for the origin of the call and saw a Great One-horned Rhino resting in the forest, less than 10m away. Although we were extremely excited, we had to remain absolutely silent, so as not to disturb it. Despite our efforts, it walked slowly away into the forest when it spotted us. We then saw a variety of other mammal and bird species, which included Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Common Langur, a Sloth Bear and its baby, Spur-winged Lapwing, Golden Oriole and Jungle Owlet.
On the following day, with the assistance of WWF Nepal and the King Mahendra Trust For Nature Conservation, a local green group, we visited the Chitwan Elephant Breeding Centre. We saw a 16-month pregnant elephant - only another 6 months to go! The center is operated by the Nepalese Government to breed Asian Elephants as a means of local transport and labour, and to convince local people to stop capturing wild elephants.
Facilitates in Chitwan National Park are basic. There is no permanent electricity supply. Accommodations are simply but tidy. There are privately run accommodations outside the national park, but the time to take you in and out of the park for activities must be taken into account, especially when some activities are started very early in the morning. Plan your clothings as the temperature difference between day and night can be big. When we visited the Park in February, it was below 5 degree Celsius at night, and above 20 degree Celsius during the day time. An at least 3-day stay is recommended to enjoy the major activities.
HOW TO GO
Kathmandu and Pokhara are the two major entry points for visitors to visit Nepal. Both of them are itself full of civilization and spectacle scenery. For there you can easily find tour operators arranging trips to Chitwan.
ONE LAST WORD
The Nepal government and NGOs have been promoting elephant breeding. The benefits are of multi-fold - minimize capturing elephants from the wild, provide new job and business opportunities and skills to local people, better training to elephants. The most important, it is a sustainable concept.
introductory article is an edited version of
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