Biodiversity

 
 

Biodiversity




Butterflies have been studied in Nepal for over 150 years, with much of the original study and collection done by the British, including one or two British Residents (i.e. British Consuls of the day). After 1950 the Japanese became involved in collection through scientific expeditions, and this resulted later in the establishment by Tribhuvan University of the Natural History Museum at Swayambhu in 1974.

The record books state that Nepal has 11 out of the 15 families of butterflies in the world, or over 500 species, and still today in the 21st century new species keep turning up. It is said that you never really know with Nepal's butterflies; they just may turn up unexpectedly . From 1974 to 1981, only a period of seven years, a further 24 specimens or sub-families were added to the records, and in 1981 two alone, the BLUE DUCHESS and the SIKKIM HAIRSTREAK were discovered, with this last one known only from a single specimen from Sikkim, with this one female found in 1981 in Godavari, Kathmandu Valley ; and later in 1986 an entirely new race of the CHINESE HAIRSTREAK turned up. The original collectors were not allowed outside the Kathmandu Valley, so much of their research documented only the valley. Only after 1950 when Nepal opened up to expeditions and limited tourism, did the butterfly collectors venture outside the valley.

Nepal is divided into 5 regions based on altitude, and the seasons are specified as Spring, Pre-monsoon, Summer-monsoon, Post-monsoon, Autumn and Winter. In winter below 3,000 metres.

Within the Kathmandu Valley, the climate which is quite mild with day temperatures reaching 18ºC in mid-winter, there are butterflies all the year round. The best seasons for butterfly watching are late March/April, mid May/ mid June, late August/September. There are forested areas in the valley which are still remarkable places for butterflies, and they include open country near Chobar and there is very little activity except for the very common Oriental Species, with the distribution of butterflies in Nepal being quite specific with about 10% of the butterflies being Palaearctic species above 3,000 metres, and about 90% Oriental species Swyambhu; the base of the hills and forest streams at Godavari, Nagarjun, Budhanilkantha and Sundarijal; the forested hilltops of Phulchowki, Jamachowk and Shivapuri, and the open scrubby bush areas of Nagarkot , Suryavinyak and Chandragiri.

There are about 20 Kathmandu Valley species on the endangered or vulnerable list. Outside the valley in the areas of the National Parks scattered throughout the country, the butterflies too are in profusion, and in undisturbed areas away from settlements are the ideal places to sit and watch.

 

 



The Kingdom of Nepal covers an area of 147,181 square kilometers, and stretches 145-241 kilometers north to south and 850 kilometers west to east. The country is located between India in the south and China in the north. At latitudes 26 and 30 degrees north and longitudes 80 and 88 degrees east, Nepal is topographically divided into three regions: the Himalaya to the north, the hills consisting of the Mahabharat range and the Churia Hills in the middle, and the Terai to the south. Elevations are varied in the kingdom. The highest point is Mt. Everest (8848 m) in the north and the lowest point (70 meters above sea level) is located at Kechana Kalan of Jhapa District. Altitude increases as you travel south to north. In the north temperatures are below -40°C and in the Terai, temperatures rise to 40°C in the summer. During June, July and August, the kingdom is influenced by monsoon clouds.

Bird Watching

About 850 species of birds are found in Nepal. With the opening of Koshi Tappu Reserve, bird watching is gaining grounds in Nepal. Koshi Tappu alone has recorded over 250 species of birds. Rare birds include Impeyean pheasant, the national bird, snow cock, snow pigeon, giant horn-bill, saras crane and babblers. The spiny babbler is a rare endemic variety found only in Nepal. Every year migratory birds from Tibet, Siberia and the northern mountains fly to the lowlands and Terai of Nepal. The Koshi Barrage is one of the most important migratory habitats. Bird watching is a very pleasant experience during late autumn and early spring when the migration occurs. Other parks and reserves also attract more birds and birdwatchers.

Flower Tour

Nepal is rich in vegetation. The country's diverse terrain provides ideal conditions for varieties from tropical to hill plants and flowers. Some orchids and certain varieties of rhododendron are very rare and found only in Nepal. Lali Guras or the red rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal. During the right seasons most visitors who come to explore the natural beauty of the country, are fortunate to have a glimpse of spectacular sights of hills covered with rhododendron flowers. Spring and autumn are the best seasons for flowers in Nepal.