Nepal’s ten national parks, three wildlife reserves, six conservation areas, 12 buffer zones and, surprisingly, one hunting reserve – collectively about 23% of the country’s total area – help support a surprising array of fauna.
In global terms, the country hosts nearly 4% of all mammalian species and, mainly because of its location along seasonal migratory routes, an astonishing 9% of birds (of which around half can be spotted in the hills and forests of the Kathmandu Valley alone).
Most wildlife inhabits the rich lowland Terai region adjoining India. The one-horned rhinoceros is almost emblematic of this area, which it shares with a handful of wild (as opposed to domestic) elephants, crocodile, buffalo and bison. Deer, such as the spotted and swamp varieties along with sambar, are ubiquitous but there are also antelopes, elusive tigers, leopards, hyenas, sloth bears and jackals. A handful of Gangetic dolphins survive in the Karnali River.
Deeper into the hills, bears, boars and the almost fox-like red panda eventually give way to several high-altitude dwelling goats and the Himalayan Tahr. Rarest and arguably the most beautiful of all is the snow leopard.
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