The Chitwan National Park was completely wild and a hunting ground of the Rana rulers until the 1950s. Guest lists included royalty and Who’s Who from Europe and India. The area was inhabited in pockets by the Tharus who had built a resistance to malaria, endemic to the region. In the 1950s, vast swathes of the forest were cleared to eradicate malaria and to settle people from the hills seeking better economic opportunities. However, such a large and sudden influx of people, mostly those who had not known how to live in harmony with the forest and its residents, led to greater man-animal conflicts. Poaching rose sharply – the number of rhinos declined from 800 to under 200, and tiger population also dipped dramatically.
Conservation efforts have ensured Chitwan is now one of the best forest reserves in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to the Rhinoceros, Elephants (including wild tuskers) and many other animals and birds. Don’t miss out on walking and river safaris – they are special to Chitwan. And drop by at the Vulture Restaurant.
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