Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve
The Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve is situated in the southern part of Far-West Nepal in Kanchanpur District. The reserve lies between 80o 25′ east longitude and 28o 35′ north latitude.
The reserve had been a famous hunting area for many years and was declared a Royal Hunting Reserve in 1969. The reserve was gazetted in 1973 as Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. It began as an area of 155 sq. km, today the reserve covers an area of 305 sq. m after completion of an extension.
The riverine flood plain of the reserve comprises of hill wash and alluvial deposits. Sal (Shorea robusta) is the dominant tree species. Extensive grasslands (locally called phanta) provide an ideal habitat for swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli). The species is endangered and there is a population of about 2000 in the reserve.
- The reserve has typically four seasons, winter, spring, summer and monsoon. The months of December and January are fairly cold and misty with occasional frost. Temperatures during the winter range from 10 to 12 C, gradually rising up to 22 to 25 C in February and March. In the pre-monsoon period (April-June) the temperatures range form 30 to 32 C and sometimes reaching as high as 42 C with increasing humidity.
Vegetation and Wild Animals:
- Predominant sal (Shorea robusta) forest is associated with asna (Terminalia alata), semal (Bombaxceiba), and karma (Adina Cordifolia). Khair, (Acacia catechu) and sissoo (Dolbergia sisso) forest is found along the river side. The main grass species of the phantas are Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum heteropogon which are extensively used by the local people for thatching.
- The reserve provides prime habitat for swamp deer (Cervus duvauceli). An estimated population of 2000 is found in the reserve. Other wild animals in the reserve are wild elephant (Elephas maximus), tiger (Panthera tigris), hispid hare (Caprolagus hispidus), blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus), leopard (Panthera pardus), chital (Zxis axis), hog deer (Zxis porcinus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa).
- A total 268 species of birds has been recorded in the reserve. Many grassland birds along with the rare Bengal florican can be seen in the phantas. Marsh mugger crocodile, Indian python, monitor lizard and snakes like cobra, krait and rat snake have been recorded in the reserve.
- The extensive open grasslands of Suklaphanta are worth visiting for a breathtaking view of the largest herd of swamp deer in the world and other grassland birds including Bengal florican.
- Wetlands such as Ranital, Sikarital and others in the extension area like Kalikitch Lake, Lalpanital and Taratal, support a healthy population of many kinds of waterfowl, reptiles and other wildlife.
- Ranital, 18 km. from the reserve HQ., is a beautiful lake for viewing waterfowl, with machans (viewing towers).
How to Get There:
- The reserve is accessible by road as well as by air. The reserve will be easily accessible by road from any parts of Nepal with the completion of the far-western sector of East-West Highway. There is once a week flight from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi which is 51 km. far from the park headquarters. There is regular public bus service from Dhangadhi to Mahendranagar taking 3 hours drive and the reserve headquarters is 8 km south-west of Mahendranagar. The reserve can be reached by East-West Highway through Nepalgunj-Dhangadhi-Mahendranagar.
- Movement inside the reserve is restricted between sunrise and sunset.
- Flora and fauna are totally protected and must not be disturbed.
- Rubbish must be either carried away or disposed in a designated place.
- Do carry a comprehensive first aid kit with you, including medicines for intestinal problems.
- A small information center is maintained at the reserve HQ at Majhgaon.
Entry Fees into Royal Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve:
- Entry fees per person per day:
- For Nepali Nationals Rs 20
- For SAARC Nationals Rs 200
- For Foreign Nationals Rs 500
- Children under 10 years free.
- Camping in comfortable tents – US$175 per person, including all meals, wildlife drives and walks. Visit to local Tharu villages can also be arranged.
- For vehicle Fee – Rs 2000
- Elephant ride per hour per person – Rs 1000