The above photo of a Leopard was taken at the Central Zoo in Kathmandu. It was sad to see such a magnificent animal caged up like that in a very inadequate enclosure. Added to this was the fact that it wouldn’t give me a full face shot. Never mind.
Indian Leopards are a subspecies of leopards found throughout the Indian subcontinent.
The Indian leopard is one of the most successful members of Indian big cats. The animal is distributed throughout the subcontinent, including in the border nations of Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and southern China. Habitat varies from dry deciduous forests, desert ecosystems, tropical rainforests, northern coniferous forests, to near human habitation. (fromWikipedia)
On our elephant rides through the Royal Chitwan National Park in the Terai area of southern Nepal I was aware of the possibility of seeing leopards as well as tigers. Sadly we saw neither. To have seen these magnificent animals in their natural habitat would have been wonderful.
The leopard’s diet varies on all sorts of creatures from small animals, to larger quarry such as, monkeys, deer, and antelope. The animal silently stalks its prey, ending with a quick bite to the throat. It then stores its prey up in the tree to keep it safe from scavengers. (Wikipedia article)
One of the highlights of my trip to Nepal was the chance to get out into the forest and attempt to see a tiger in its natural environment. This opportunity came during my four day stay in a hotel right next to the Royal Chitwan National Park, one of a handful of places in Nepal where one can hope to see a wild tiger. Alas – it was not to be.
Despite spending quite a few hours on the back of an elephant searching the forest and grasslands in the national park, no tiger emerged. I am not sure whether I was relieved or disappointed. I guess I was somewhat disappointed we didn’t see such a magnificent animal in the wild, but at the same time I felt relief that we didn’t have a close encounter with one; I felt rather exposed and vulnerable, even on the back of an elephant!
While talking to one of the guides over dinner in the hotel, he admitted that he’d only ever seen two tigers in over twenty years of guiding, both on the same day! Only a few hundred visitors out of many hundreds of thousands to the park every year actually get to see one. The following information comes from the Wikipedia article:
Distribution: The Bengal Tiger or Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a subspecies of tiger primarily found in Bangladesh and India and also in Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and in southern Tibet.
Habitat:It is the most common tiger subspecies, and lives in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, subtropical and tropical rainforests, scrub forests, wet and dry deciduous forests and mangroves. Its fur is orange-brown with black stripes. It is the national animal of both Bangladesh and India.
Food: In the wild, Bengal Tigers are pure carnivores and hunt medium-sized and large-sized animals, such as wild boar, deer, gaurs and water buffalo. They also prey on smaller animals like hares, monkeys, langurs and peacocks. Bengal Tigers have also been known to prey on young Asian Elephants and rhino calves.
Status: Estimates in 2005 indicate an approximate worldwide population of 4,500 Bengal Tigers: The bulk of the population of about 3000 individuals live in India. There are about 200 tigers living in both Bangladesh and Nepal.
For more information check out Wikipedia here.
Click on the photo to enlarge the image.
It was something of an anti-climax to see the One-horned Rhinoceros in the Central Zoo in Kathmandu. This was because I had already seen several of this species in their natural habitat in the Terai region of southern Nepal.
On my visit to the Royal Chitwan National Park I went on two elephant rides through the park and we saw a One-horned Rhinoceros on each of those rides. I have already written about that experience here and here.
The One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is also called the Indian Rhinoceros. This is one of five species of rhino in existence today; several other species are now extinct. It’s preferred habitat is the tall grasslands and forests of north eastern India and southern Nepal, including the Terai region where I saw it. They have very good hearing but rather poor eyesight.
The One-horned Rhinoceros is an endangered species. By 1910 its numbers had dropped to about 100 individuals and was thus on the brink of extinction. A concerted conservation effort has seen this number rise to about 2400 at present, some 535 of which live in Nepal. While the success of the conservation programme is encouraging, it is still on the endangered list.
The numbers of rhinos dropped dramatically due to a combination of poaching for their horns and the destruction of their habitat. In some parts they can be a pest species to local farmers. On one of my trips through the farming area near Royal Chitwan NP I saw first hand evidence of the destruction of crops by a rogue rhino only the night before.
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For more information about the One-horned Rhinoceros click here.
On my visit to the Central Zoo in Kathmandu I was delighted to get these photos of two hippos. The photo above could well be used on a poster entitled “Contentment” or perhaps even “Friends”.
I didn’t see any hippopotami in the wild in Nepal. That’s not surprising because they are an African animal. I did, however, see several Rhinos (click here and here) in the Royal Chitwan National Park.
Click on any photo to enlarge the image.
More photos can be found on my Photo Gallery here.
More information about hippopotami can be found on the Wikipedia article here.
One of the species of animals I saw for the first time on my visit to Nepal was the Muntjac, commonly called a Barking Deer. I saw this species fleetingly from the back of an elephant in the forest area of the Royal Chitwan National Park. It was so quick and so well camouflaged in the poor light of the forest I was unable to get a good photo of it. I was therefore very pleased to be able to photograph this species in Central Zoo in Kathmandu a few days later. Not the same as getting a shot at one in its natural environment but still pleasing. One day I hope to return to Chitwan for a longer stay and get some better photos.
Shy and Elusive
The Barking Deer is a shy and elusive member of the deer family. It is found over a wide range of dense forests throughout India and southern Nepal. Its name is derived from its distinct call which sounds just like a barking dog. This deer can grow to between 50 and 75cm in height with a weight of 20-30kg. They are usually a solitary species, rarely being seen in the company of others. They are primarily grass and fruit eaters.
For more information click on these links: