National Parks and Sanctuaries
Andamans and Nicobars
Bandavgarh National Park
Bandipura Tiger Reserve
Bardia National Park
Chitwan National Park
Corbett Tiger Reserve
Dachigam National Park
Great Himalayan National Park
Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary
Anamalais (Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary)
Kanha National Park
Kaziranga National Park
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
Nagarahole (Rajiv Gandhi National Park)
Periyar Tiger Reserve
Ranthambore National Park
Fauna - Quick Links
Barasingha Leopard
Bonnet tailed Macaque Lion
Chital Lion tailed Macaque
Common Langur Nilgiri Langur
Dhole Rhesus Macaque
Gaur Sambar
Gharial Sloth Bear
Hangul Tiger
Hog Deer Wild Boar
Wolf Estuarine
Muntjac Mugger
National Parks and Sanctuaries : Bardia National Park


Royal Bardia National Park started life as a Protected Area in 1976 when a small area was gazetted as the Royal Karnali Wildlife Reserve. However, the history of protection goes back much further to the regime of the Ranas (1856-1950) who decreed that large parts of the Nepali terai were to be stringently protected as hunting reserves.

Thus, in common with so many other good parks of the subcontinent, Bardia owes its present existence and relative good health to the hunting proclivities of the local rulers.

The protection to the terai was under-written by the prevalence of a deadly form of malaria which, more perhaps than governmental diktat, discouraged settlers and would-be poachers from intruding into this wild paradise. The only people to establish themselves here were a semi-aboriginal group known as the Tharus who had developed some resistance to malaria. They are a fascinating group who live mainly in Nepal but also spill across the border into India and even today form the majority of the population in this part of the terai. Hard working and efficient farmers, their culture and life-style provide a distinctive and attractive backdrop to any travels in the terai.
By the end of the Second World War, however, anti-malarial drugs and pesticides had largely neutralised the threat of malaria. In 1950 with the overthrow of the Ranas political protection to the terai was removed. Shortly after this the government of Nepal launched the malaria eradication programme and opened up the rich lowlands of the terai to settlement by the people from the over-populated hills. By the mid-1960's most of the forests of the central terai had vanished under the plough and the axe. Fortunately West Nepal was not as severely effected.

n 1982 the Royal Karnali Wildlife Reserve was renamed the Royal Bardia Wildlife Reserve and in 1984 the Babai valley extending from Paraodwar to Chepang was added to the Reserve bringing it to its present size. In the process 1500 people were resettled outside the reserve. (Rumour has it that these people, goaded by resentment and equipped with an intimate knowledge of the land indulge in extensive poaching in the Babai valley). In 1988 the reserve was upgraded to National Park status.

The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) manages protected Areas in Nepal, which in turn is part of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. A Warden, who is in turn assisted by an Asst.Warden and rangers, manages Bardia. A battalion of the Royal Nepal Army provides physical protection to the park. As part of the Park & People Programme initiated by the DNPWC an area of 327 sq. kms. surrounding the park was declared a buffer zone in 1997. This consists of forests and private lands and is jointly managed by the park and local communities. The effort is to restore degraded forests by making the local people stakeholders in the forests and direct beneficiaries of the conservation effort. The aim is to improve and enlarge the land base for wildlife. The Research and Training Centre for Protected Areas (RTCPA) was established at Lalmati in Bardia in 1998.


Area: 968 sq. kms.
Latitude: 28° 16' N - 28° 39' N
Longitude: 81° 13' E - 81° 42' E

Climate: North Indian Monsoonal characterised by distinct wet season from June until end- September. Cool weather lasts from October to March with minimum temperatures of about 2°C and maximum temperatures in May of about 40°C.

Avg. Rainfall: 1650 mm

Bardia is situated in the western terai of Nepal. It is drained by the Karnali River which emerges from the Siwalik Hills at a gorge called Chisapani. This is also the roadhead for the ancient trade route connecting Jumla in the hills to the plains. A major tributary called the Babai drains the eastern part of the park. Most of the park is flat with a considerable portion being occupied by the alluvial flood-plains of these two rivers which, after the monsoon, divide into a number of channels presenting a braided appearance.


The park lies within the sub-tropical moist deciduous vegetation zone. The fertile soil and abundant moisture supports a dense, luxuriant growth and trees of all species reach optimum size in this region. Seventy percent of the park is covered by 'sal forest', a generic name to describe forests dominated by sal (Shorea robusta) and its companion species such as Saj (Terminalia tomentosa), T.chebula, T. bellarica, Laegostroemia parvifolia, Garuga pennata, Mallotus phillipenensis, etc. The trees are often draped in massive lianas such as Spatholobus roxburghii and Bauhinia vahlii which often collapse to form bizarre shapes in the jungle. This forest occupies the higher ground free from flooding. The balance of the park is a mix of grasslands and riverine forest. The grasslands can be further divided into those that lie within the alluvial floodplain of the rivers and the short grass areas that occupy higher ground and cover a relatively small area of the park. The grass species are hetropogon, themeda, cyanodon, saccharum, imperata, etc. Khair (Acacia catechu), +.shishum (Dalbergia sissoo) and semal (Bombax ceiba) dominate the riverine forests. A finger of the park extends into the Siwalik Hills where a more mixed vegetation is found.

Royal Bardia National Park was "established to protect representative ecosystems and protect tiger and its prey." As per the tiger census of 1995-96 there were 30-32 breeding animals in the Karnali/Bardia area using a land base of 1840 sq. kms. 51% of which is occupied by the park. The DNPWC estimates that between 1987 and 1997 the tiger populations west of the Karnali river became increasingly isolated from the Bardia population. The creation of the buffer zone and community participation in management is an effort to regenerate this tiger habitat to improve carrying capacities and make the tiger populations in the entire area more secure. The prey base for the Tiger (Panthera tigris) comprises in the main of Chital (Cervus axis), Sambar (Cervus unicolor), Hog Deer (Axis porcinus) and Wild Boar (Sus scrofa). Bardia is also home to one of the few remaining populations of the Swamp Deer or Barasingha (Cervus duvauceli) The riverine forests and scrub grasslands supports a reasonable population of the Bluebull antelope or Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus). Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra) once inhabited the short grass meadows. These meadows were maintained by grazing pressure and fire. With the removal of the villages and their cattle these meadows are rapidly disappearing under tall grasses and trees - all inimical to the Blackbuck which have virtually disappeared from the Park. The other endangered species found here is the Elephant (Elephas maximus) and Bardia is home to one of the largest wild Elephants in Nepal - an enormous bull named Raja Gaj or King Elephant. The rivers too are home to the increasingly rare Gangetic Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) and Smooth Otters (Lutra perspicillata). In fact this is one of the best places to see these endearing animals. Both grey or Common Langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) and Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) are found here along with their arch enemy the Leopard (Panthera pardus). Smaller mammals include jungle cats, fishing cats, jackals, Common mongoose, ratels and the edges of the park also hold the striped hyena.

In 1986, in a move to establish a new viable population in Bardia, 13 Greater One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) were translocated from Royal Chitwan National Park. Presumably rhinos once inhabited this area and had since vanished but the present population is doing very well. In 1991 and 1999 a further 25 & 5 rhinos respectively were translocated and then a further translocation took place in February-March 2000. The present population numbers 52 and augurs well for an important conservation initiative.


In common with all the terai parks, Bardia hosts a spectacular number of birds with the list numbering well over 300 species. An exhilarating birding experience is a float trip down the Karnali river. In the winter Ospreys are common and there is always a chance to spot a white-tailed fish eagle. White-eyed Buzzards, Changeable Hawk-eagles and Serpent eagles, Shikras and various vultures including the Cinerous (European Black) vulture can all be seen. Rafts of large cormorants often appear accompanied by herons, egrets, gulls and terns and the rivers edge is patrolled by Common, White-breasted and Lesser Pied Kingfishers with the Storkbilled Kingfisher more often heard than seen. Grassland species include Slenderbilled and Striated Babblers, Stonechats and Redwinged bush Larks and the mix of forest types supports a representative diversity of forest birds.

The Karnali and Babai rivers are both inhabited by Marsh or Mugger (Crocodylus palustris) and the rare fish-eating Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) crocodiles. Apart from these, numerous species of snakes and lizards are found here including rock python, common cobra, krait and the green pit viper. The monitor lizard is present as is the Colotus or the common garden lizard.
Best time to visit
Although the park is open throughout the year the best time to visit would be between October and May. Each month has its highlights but because of the dense vegetation and high grasses game-viewing is best after the grasses have been burnt and the new grasses have begun to emerge - essentially between February and May although it does get hot in April and May.

How to get there
By Air: Closest airport is Nepalganj which 1 ½ hrs. from the park. Regular flights from Kathmandu.
By Road: From Kathmandu 12-14 hours. Eight hours from Chitwan. About 6 hours from Dudhwa National Park in India.


Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge & Tented Camp
The lodge is situated just outside the park and has 14 very comfortable en suite rooms. Comfort, food, service and activity are all of a very high standard as can be expected of Tiger Tops. Elephant and jeep safaris, nature and bird walks, boat trips and village excursions are all organised with trained staff to accompany all guests. The Tented Camp is spectacularly situated on the Karnali River inside the park.

Rafting is possible down both the rivers of the park although special permission is needed for the Babai River. This permission also allows for camping inside the park and provides for a truly exciting jungle experience.


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