Koshi Tappu: Visit the Shangri-La of Bird Lovers

Koshi Tappu is a protected area in Southeastern Nepal that lies on the banks of Sapta Koshi river. The wildlife reserve spans over 175 km. sq. and touches Sunsari, Saptari and Udayapur districts. Koshi Tappu consists predominantly of wetlands, mudflats, freshwater marshes and reed beds. The reserve rest in plain flats in the inner Terai of Nepal. The area of Koshi Tappu elevates from 75 meters to 81 meters.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife was established to protect the last habitat of Wild Water Buffalo (Arna) of Nepal. The official gazette of the reserve was in 1976. The wildlife reserve in December 1987 received designation as a Ramsar site.

Koshi Tappu birds
Image taken from www.todayshomepage.com

Birdwatchers Paradise

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the Shangri-La of birdwatchers and ornithologists. Among the 863 species of birds spotted in Nepal till date, Koshi Tappu hosts 485 species of birds. Some of the notable birds in the reserve are Watercock,  Dusky Eagleowl, Black-headed Cuckoo-shrike, Indian nightjar and White-tailed stonechat. Rare bird like Striated Grassbird, Large Adjutant Stork, Pallas’s fish eagle, common golden-eye and Gull-billed Tern. The elusive Swamp francolin and Rufous-vented grass babbler also are sighted in Koshi Tappu.

The endangered and rarely sighted Bengal Florican makes their nest on woods on the banks of Koshi river. In a census of 2011, ornithologists found 17 Bengal Floricans from 9 different sites in a 34 km stretch of Koshi river.

New Species of Bird and a Rare Bird Seen in the Reserve

Bengal Florican
Image taken from http://www.facts4u.co.in/indian-bison-gaur/

A new species of Nightjar was spotted in Koshi Tappu in 2008 making the bird species count of Nepal to 863. The bird is Skyes’s Nightjar and visits Nepal in few numbers. The bird is found in Pakistan and South China and Northern India and also breeds in these areas. Nightjars are nocturnal and crepuscular in habit.

Recently, an endangered bird has been spotted in the grasslands of Koshi Tappu. The Greater Adjutant is an endangered member of the stork family and has been seen at Koshi Tappu after 22 years. The last time a Greater Adjutant was seen in Nepal was in 1995. The stork was in a flock of vultures in the western part of the reserve. The Adjutant lives in many parts of India, Nepal, and Srilanka, but their number is decreasing drastically because of habitat loss. Now there are only 800 of Adjutant stork in Assam, 150 in Bihar and 200 in Cambodia.

Flora and Fauna of Koshi Tappu

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the smallest protected park in the Terai region of Nepal. The vegetation of the reserve majorly consists of riverine deciduous forests, grasslands, and marshy fields. 68% of the 175 sq. Km. area of the reserve is plain grasslands, and only 6% is covered with forests. Most of the woods in the reserve are Indian Rosewood. The pastures are maintained by annual flooding and grazing by wildlife consequently. Summer monsoon brings flood in the area. The extensive wetlands of Koshi Tappu homes 514 plant species. Some of the predominant flora found in the reserve are Kapok, Sugarcane, Reed, Cattail, Eel grass, Lotus and species of Eichhornia, Hydrilla and Azolla.

The wildlife reserve also homes several animals inside the park. More than 200 species of fish live in Koshi river and wetlands of Koshi Tappu. You can also fish inside the park after acquiring fishing permits. There are 31 species of mammals in reserve. Some notable mammals inside the park are Asian Elephant, Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Smooth-Coated Otter, Wild Boar and Golden Jackal. You can also view the Ganges Dolphin sometimes in the Koshi river. The park is the last habitat of Wild Water Buffalo in Nepal. Indian Bison (Gaur) and Blue Bull (Nilgai) are also few in number, and their number has decreased in recent years. Until recent years, reports suggested only 150 wild water buffalos remained in the wildlife reserve.

You can also view the endangered gharial crocodile sometimes on the banks of Sapta Koshi.

The Last Habitat of Wild Water Buffalo

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the last habitat of Wild Water Buffalos in Nepal. Also referred to as Arna, an endangered mammal whose number count is below 4000 in the world. Wild Water Buffalo is listed endangered in the IUCN Red List since 1986. The Wild Water Buffalo is the nearest ancestor of domestic water buffalos. Koshi Tappu solely exist to protect these endangered buffalos and help increase their number.

A recent count of Wild Water Buffalos in Koshi Tappu has revealed a very positive result. There are around 432 wild buffalos as suggested by the count in 2016. There were just 63 wild buffalos in the country in 1975 A.D. when the first census was conducted.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve has the second largest number of wild buffalos after Kaziranga National Park in State of Assam in India. There are about 3100 wild buffalos in Assam, 432 in Nepal and around 200 in Bhutan and Cambodia.

Indian Bison
Image taken from wikipedia.com

When to Visit Koshi Tappu

Trekking and adventure activities are not ideal for winter season in Nepal. If you wish to visit Koshi Tappu and witness the richness of birds and roam through the grasslands viewing the mammals and migratory birds in action, winter is the best season to visit Koshi Tappu.   

Large flocks of migratory cranes and arctic birds come to Koshi Tappu in search of food and warmth. This makes winter the ideal time to visit the wildlife reserve. If you are a bird watcher and lover of the beauty of birds, grab a pair of binoculars, sunglasses, hat, and head over to Koshi Tappu. The birds you see here in Koshi are rarely sighted in other parts of the world. Koshi is the most easily accessible place to view rare and endangered birds.

Avert from visiting Koshi Tappu in the Summer and Monsoon season. Temperature is scorching in early summer and monsoon brings heavy rainfall and floods inside the Tappu. You can’t even navigate across the park in the floods let alone carry on birdwatching. So make sure you visit Koshi Tappu in either winter or spring but don’t make the mistake of visiting the park in summer and monsoon season.

The Migratory Birds of Koshi Tappu are not Safe

Every year, many birds are found dead inside the park and are becoming a growing concern for bird watchers and ornithologists who regularly visit the area for research and data collection. Many migratory birds that come to the reserve in winter are found dead in many numbers every year.

Research on the issue revealed that the pesticides that locals use on their crops are the main reason for the death of birds. Migratory birds come in search of food in Koshi and end up eating these crops and die of poisoning. Further detail research revealed local people directly pose a threat to these birds. Local farmers attack and kill these birds for food and attack them for eating their crops.

How to get to Koshi Tappu

You can reach Koshi Tappu in several ways. The fastest way to reach the famed bird paradise is in a flight from Kathmandu to Biratnagar and then a short drive to the Wildlife reserve. The flight duration from Kathmandu to Biratnagar is 45 minutes, and several planes depart both ways in a day. You can reach Koshi Tappu in under two hours after landing in Kathmandu.

You can also choose to reach Koshi Tappu by bus or jeep in a 10-12 hour ride. The long trip goes through several hills in the Mahabharat and Churia range and passes through several hillsides villages. If you have time to spare, then you can take this scenic journey that covers the central and eastern regions of Nepal.

There is another thrilling way to reach the Koshi Tappu Reserve. You can choose to take a rafting trip from Sunkoshi and raft all the way to Sapta Koshi river. The Raft is 8-10 days long in one of the most exciting white-water rafting rivers in the world. If you love thrills and excitement in life and have prior rafting experience, you can take this ten-day raft trip to reach Koshi Tappu.

Activities you can do in Koshi Tappu

Activities you can enjoy during your visit to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve are:

  • Bird Watching
  • Nature Walks
  • Boat Riding
  • Bicycle Trips
  • Jeep Safaris
  • Elephant Safari

Things to carry for Koshi Tappu Trip

Koshi Tappu trip doesn’t require specific items like in high altitude treks in the Himalayas. Some of the essential items you must take for a trip to Koshi Tappu ( Shangri-La of Birds Lovers) are:

  • An Exceptional Binocular
  • Sun cream, Sunglasses, and Hat
  • Hiking Boots and Sandals
  • Water bottle and water purification system

For further queries and information regarding Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve trip you can ask us about our services, our work experience and any other details you want to know about our past work here.

You can also check about other trek packages in our blog.

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