Nepal is a small country that covers 0.03% of the overall area of the planet and 0.3% of the total area of Asia. Despite being a small landmass, it has been blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and biodiversity. With land contrasts, it has more than 30 species of large wild animals, 180 species of mammals, and over 800 species of birds, or 8% of the world in total. It is home to endangered and rare wildlife species of the world. In this list, we have listed 10 rare and endangered animals found in Nepal.
One-horned rhinos are the biggest of the rhino species. The one-horned rhino is famous for its distinctive horn made of keratin. Unfortunately, this unique feature poses a great threat for them as people illegally hunt them down for those horns. These rhinos used to be widespread across the floodplain and forest tracts in Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus River Valley in great numbers. Today, no more than 2000 remain in the wild. Rhinos are protected in Chitwan National Park and Bardiya National Park. There are approximately 600 rhinos in Chitwan National Park.
2. Red Panda
The red panda is found in the northern Himalayas particularly in Langtang National Park. This skillful and acrobatic mammal is listed as endangered on the IUCN red list as the population of red pandas has been decreasing over years. There are fewer than 10,000 red pandas in the world. The main reason for the decline is habitat loss and poaching. There is around 1000 red panda found in Nepal.
3. Bengal Tiger
Bengal Tiger found in Nepal’s lowland forests, is one of the five remaining species of tiger found in the world today. The lowland forests were the habitat of the Bengal tiger until the Malaria was eradicated in Terai and people started to migrate to Terai. This lead to deforestation and the destruction of the habitat of the Tiger reducing the population of tigers significantly. The Bengal tiger is found in Chitwan National Park and Bardiya National Park. With the initiative of saving the Bengal tiger, the population of the Bengal tiger has increased to 235 tigers in 2018 which is close to double of 121 tigers recorded in 2011.
Snow leopards are found in the high northern Himalayas. These apex predators in the Himalayan ecosystem are listed as endangered on the IUCN red list as the total population of the snow leopard is estimated to be around 10,000 and is expected to decrease in the coming future due to climate change, global warming, and loss of habitat. Snow leopards are found in the high mountains of Mugu, Mustang, Dolpa, and Humla district of Nepal. It is estimated that there are around 500 snow leopards found in Nepal.
5.Himalayan Musk Deer
Himalayan Musk Deer are special species of musk deer found in northern parts of Nepal. This shy animal is on the IUCN Endangered List due to an increase in poaching of the deer, thus reducing its numbers. The deer is poached for its musk pouch which is used as traditional medicine, perfume, and cosmetics in China and Korea. The number of Himalayan musk deer has been decreasing rapidly in Nepal. They are being protected under Sagarmatha National Park, Lantang National Park, Rara National Park, and Shey Phoksundo National Park. The current population of Himalayan musk deer is estimated to be around 1500 in Nepal.
The leopard cat is found in the mid-hills and Terai region of Nepal. This small wild cat has been listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List as it is widely distributed although threatened by habitat loss and hunting in parts of its range. It is protected in Khaptad National Park, Shukla Phanta National Park, Langtang National Park, Makalu Barun National Park, Shivapuri National Park, and Chitwan National Park.
Blackbuck is a species of antelopes found in Nepal. The blackbuck was widespread in the Indian subcontinent but the population of blackbuck is decreasing due to hunting and habitat loss. Blackbuck was almost extinct in Nepal until a small herd of nine blackbucks was found in Bardiya.To ensure the survival of this last blackbuck population, The government of Nepal declared a special area namely Blackbuck Conservation Area. The initiative to save Blackbuck has now resulted in around 300 blackbucks in Nepal. They are protected in Shuklaphanta National Park.
The pangolin is a mammal covered in scales made of keratin. They are found in 44 districts of Nepal. Among four Asian pangolins, Chinese pangolin and Indian pangolin are found in Nepal. Both are endangered species but the Chinese pangolin is more critically endangered. The population of the pangolin is decreasing rapidly due to the hunting and killing of mammals. They are killed for their scales made of keratin which has high medicinal value and also misbelief of regarding them inauspicious and being killed by the farmer when seen.
The gharial is fish-eating crocodiles found in the Terai region of Nepal. They are the longest crocodiles found in the world. The gharials are mistaken for killing humans and thus, are killed when they are seen in the rivers. This led to a significant decrease in the number of Gharials in Nepal with less than 100 gharials remaining. The conservation initiative to save gharial started with Gharial breeding centers which helped to increase the number of Gharials from 100 to about 2000. The gharial is protected in Chitwan National Park.
10. Clouded leopards
Clouded leopards are species of leopards found in the Himalayan region of Nepal. It is listed as an endangered animal due to its decreasing population with less than 10,000 clouded leopards found in the world. The clouded leopards were thought to be extinct in Nepal in the late 1860s but four individuals were found close to Chitwan National Park and Pokhara Valley. The clouded leopards have been protected in the Annapurna conservation area and Chitwan National Park. There are fewer than 100 clouded leopards in Nepal.