Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies on the flood plain of the Sapta-Koshi in Saptri and Sunsari Districts of eastern Nepal. The area is defined by the eastern and western embankments of the river.
Koshi Tappu Reserve, gazetted in 1976, was established mainly to preserve habitat for the remaining population of wild buffalo in Nepal.
Details About the Reserve:
Koshi Tappu is a rectangular shaped reserve, approximately 10 km wide and 10 km long, stretching northward from the Nepal/India border along the Sapta Koshi River. The Sapta Koshi is one of the three main tributaries of the Ganges.
Because of its destructiveness during monsoon floods and attempt has been made to control the waters by constructing 7-10 m high embankments parallel to the river. These prevent lateral spread of the enormous monsoon flow. Control gates at the Koshi Barrage on the border with India act as a dam and also contain the river.
Rapid and complete inundation of the reserve to depths ranging from 10 to 300 cm occurs during the monsoon. The river also changes its main course from one season to another.
The vegetation is mainly tall khar-pater grassland with a few pater grassland with a few patches of khair-sissoo (Acacia catechu-Dalbergia sissoo) scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest.
The reserve offers important habitat for a variety of wildlife. The last surviving population (about 100 individuals) of wild buffalo or arna (Bubalus arnee arnee) are found here. They are distinguished from domestic animals by their much bigger horns. Other mammals occurring here are hog deer, wild boar, spotted deer and blue bull.
The reserve also assists the local economy by providing fishing permits and allowing the collection of edible fruits and ferns in season.
A total of 280 different species of birds have been recorded in the reserve. These include twenty species of ducks, two species of ibises, many storks, egrets, herons and the endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican. The Koshi Barrage is extremely important as a resting place for migratory birds and many species recorded there are not seen elsewhere in Nepal.
The endangered Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin have been recorded in the Koshi river.
Local villagers are permitted to collect grasses from within the reserve in January each year. These are used for thatching roofs and building house walls. Because of intensive agriculture the grasses can no longer be found outside the reserve. An estimated us $250.00 worth thatch grass was removed during January 1987.
The best time to visit Koshi Tappu is between October and March when many migratory and resident birds can be seen at the barrage and on the main river channel. Several Himalayan peaks including Makalu (8475 m) the worlds fifth highest mountain, can be seen during this period of cooler clear weather.
The trail along the eastern embankment of the reserve provides places to observe birds and at dusk and dawn some of the resident animals.
The government Hattisar (elephant stable) at Koshi Tappu has the distinction of biding one of the few facilities in Asia where elephants breed regularly. His Majesty's Government maintains eight female elephants. A semi-wild male, named Ganesh Maharaj by locals, frequently visit and mates with the females, producing a total of nine youngsters so far. Ganesh Maharaj, named after the Hindu God, is considered sacred by local people. Visitors can arrange elephant rides into the reserve from the Reserve Headquarters.
Baraha Chhetra, located 5 km north of Chatara, is the site of an annual religious festival and is sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.
The region of Nepal experiences three distinct seasons. Summer lasting from February through May is intensely hot with minimal precipitation. Shade temperatures can reach 40 C. The monsoon commences late May or early June with frequent and violent thunderstorms. Rainfall is greatest during July but high humidity and temperatures are experienced throughout the season. Winter lasts from October through January with unclouded skies and moderate temperatures.
How to Get There:
Buses leave daily from Kathmandu for Kaakar-Bhitta and Biratnagar. Visitors need to get off just before Laukhi and walk 3 km to the Reserve Headquarters at Kusaha. The road to Kusaha is marked by a signboard on the main road.
Royal Nepal Airline Corporation also operates a daily air service between Kathmandu and Biratnagar. Visitors flying to Biratnagar will need to travel by bus to the reserve entrance shortly after Lauki.
Entry fee into Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve:
The Reserve Headquarters and entrance building are at Kusaha. All visitors must stop here to pay an entrance fee.
Wildlife Reserve entry fee per person per day:
For Nepali Nationals Rs 20
For SAARC Nationals Rs 200
For Foreign Nationals Rs 500
Children under 10 years Free
Elephant ride per hour - Rs 1000 - (Nepali's Rs 100)
Fishing permit - Rs 300 - (Nepali's Rs 20)
Camping per night per person - Rs 300 - (Nepali's Rs 20)
Motor vehicle drive - Rs 100
Children under 10 years Free
Entry permits should be kept in case they need to be checked by the Reserve Guards.
A small lodge at Kusaha is available for use by tourists and there is a small canteen where snacks and cold drinks can be purchased.