Spectacular Flora and Fauna in Banke National Park
Established in 2010, Banke National Park covers an area of 550 square kilometers, and together with Bardia Park, forms the 1,518 square kilometer area known as the Tiger Conservation Unit Bardia-Banke. Surrounded by a buffer zone stretching into the districts of Banke, Dang and Salyan, most of the Banke National Park lies in the Churia mountain range, providing habitats for a wide range of wildlife and is considered to be vital to the country’s goal of doubling its tiger population by 2022.
The Banke National Park (BNP) experiences three distinctly different seasons, with the weather being dry and warm in the day and cool at night from October through to early April, while from April to June temperatures can get as hot as 45 degrees centigrade, with the monsoon rains starting in July and lasting through until September. Ecosystems include deciduous riverine forests, sal forests, hardwood forests, grasslands, savannahs, and flood plains. More commonly known as sal, or shala, the Shorea robusta is slow-growing tree that can reach a height of 35 meters in the right conditions, with its trunk diameter growing to around 2.5 meters. The sal tree is important in the Hindu tradition, as it is believed to be favored by Vishnu. The resin from the sal is used in Ayurvedic medicine as an astringent, and oil is extracted from its seeds for cooking and lamp oil.
More than 300 species of birds live in the BNP, as well as 34 mammal species, 24 reptile species, seven amphibian species and 58 fish species, not to mention the myriads of butterflies and other insects. Mammals protected by Nepal’s National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1973 include the tiger, four-horned antelope and striped hyena, with birds enjoying this protection including the Bengal florican, lesser florican and giant hornbill. Protected reptiles include the python and gharial crocodile.
As is the case elsewhere in Nepal, local communities cooperate with government authorities in protecting the Banke National Park, preserving it for future generations.