Chitwan National Park
Chitwan National Park is the first national park in Nepal. Formerly called Royal Chitwan National Park it was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984.
It covers an area of 932 km2 (360 sq mi) and is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal in the Chitwan District. In altitude it ranges from about 100 metres (330 ft) in the river valleys to 815 metres (2,674 ft) in the Churia Hills. In the north and west of the protected area the Narayani-Rapti river system forms a natural boundary to human settlements. Adjacent to the east of Chitwan National Park is Parsa Wildlife Reserve, contiguous in the south is the Indian Tiger Reserve Valmiki National Park.
The coherent protected area of 2,075 km2 (801 sq mi) represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Chitwan-Parsa-Valmiki, which covers a 3,549 km2 (1,370 sq mi) huge block of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests.
The Chitwan National Park is home to at least 43 species of mammals. The „King of the Jungle“ is the Bengal Tiger. The alluvial floodplain habitat of the Terai is one of the best tiger habitats anywhere in the world. Since the establishment of Chitwan National Park the initially small population of about 25 individuals has increased to 70–110 in 1980. In some years this population has declined due to poaching and floods. In a long-term study carried out from 1995–2002 tiger researchers identified a relative abundance of 82 breeding tigers and a density of 6 females per 100 km2. Leopards are most prevalent on the peripheries of the park. They co-exist with tigers, but being socially subordinate are not common in prime tiger habitat. Apart from these top predators fishing cats, jungle cats, clouded leopards, leopard cats, marbled cats, golden jackals, Indian wild dogs, sloth bears, Bengal foxes, Spotted linsangs, palm civets, Large and Small Indian civets, several species of mongoose, binturongs, honey badgers and yellow-throated martens roam the jungle for prey.
Striped hyenas are rare and prevail on the southern slopes of the Churia Hills. Smooth-coated otters inhabit the numerous creeks and rivulets. During the late 1980s a clouded leopard, which has been captured in Nepal was collared and released in Chitwan. However, the animal did not stay in Chitwan and traveled back to the site, where it has been captured. Clouded leopards are not typical for the area, however they occur in Nepal and can breed in degraded woodlands and scrub areas previously supporting moist forest.