Rara National Park

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Rara National Park
Rara.jpg
Rara Lake
Map showing the location of Rara National Park
Map showing the location of Rara National Park
Map showing the location of Rara National Park
Map showing the location of Rara National Park
LocationNepal
Nearest cityJumla
Coordinates29°30′40″N 82°03′02″E / 29.51111°N 82.05056°E / 29.51111; 82.05056Coordinates: 29°30′40″N 82°03′02″E / 29.51111°N 82.05056°E / 29.51111; 82.05056
Area106 km2 (41 sq mi)
Established1976
Governing bodyDepartment of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation
A view of the Northern corner of Rara Lake during early morning.
Fishes seen in the clear water of Rara Lake

Rara National Park is a protected area in the Himalayas of Nepal and was established in 1976. Covering an area of 106 km2 (41 sq mi) in the Mugu and Jumla districts, it is the country's smallest national park.[1] Its main feature is Rara Lake at an altitude of 2,990 m (9,810 ft).[2] The park was established to protect the unique flora and fauna of the HumlaJumla Region of Nepal.

The park ranges in elevation from 2,800 m (9,200 ft) to 4,039 m (13,251 ft) at Chuchemara Peak on the southern side of Rara Lake. On the northern side, the peaks of Ruma Kand and Malika Kand frame the alpine freshwater lake, which is the largest lake in Nepal with a surface of 10.8 km2 (4.2 sq mi) and a maximum depth of 167 m (548 ft). It is oval-shaped with an east–west axis, a length of 5 km (3.1 mi) and a width of 3 km (1.9 mi) draining into the Mugu-Karnali River via Nijar Khola.[2]

Rara National Park is managed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and protected with the assistance of the Nepal Army.

Climate[edit]

The climate of Rara National Park is pleasant during the summer, but becomes very cold during the winter, because of the altitude. The best times to visit the park are in September, October, April, and May. During the winter, temperatures drop below freezing, and many high passes become blocked by snow.[3] The summer is warm, but June to August is monsoon season, making the trek to Rara National Park difficult.[4]

Vegetation[edit]

One thousand and seventy species of flora are estimated from Rara National Park. Rhododendron, fir, brown oak, and birch species are found in the sub-alpine region.[2] Below 3,200 m (10,500 ft), the vegetation consists of mainly blue pine (Pinus excelsa), rhododendron (Rhododendron arboretum), west Himalayan spruce, black juniper and Himalayan cypress. Above 3,200 metres (10,500 ft), the vegetation changes to a coniferous forest consisting of a mixture of fir, spruce and pine.

Fauna[edit]

Fifty-one species of mammals, 241 species of birds, two species of reptiles and amphibians, and three species of fish have been recorded from the park including musk deer, red panda, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Indian leopard, jackal, Himalayan tahr, yellow-throated marten, otter, dhole, gray langur, and rhesus macaque.[2]

There are 241 recorded species of birds, including 49 wetland species. Coots are often found in the lake. During the winter, great-crested and black-necked grebes, red-crested pochards, mallard, common teal (Anas crecca), and common merganser are common. Other birds seen often include the Himalayan snowcock, chukar partridge, Himalayan monal, kalij pheasant and blood pheasant.[2]

In 1979, three endemic snowtrout species were collected in Lake Rara and described as new species: the Nepalese snowtrout Schizothorax nepalensis, the Rara snowtrout, and Nepalese snowtrout.[5] Also in 1979, the frog species Paa rarica has been first recorded as endemic to the lake.[6]

Tourism[edit]

GORP founder Bill Greer described Rara Lake as:

"a shimmering blue jewel set in a ring of snowy peaks"[7]

Another travel writer describes a trek in the park:

"Although more trampled than in the past, the road to Rara Lake is still without any of the comfortable services available along more popular trails. Logistically it is not an easy trek; it is hard to get to and from, and it is an organizational challenge, requiring informed guides and porters to tote the two weeks' worth of material that will keep you warm, dry and fed. It is also tough on the bones, involving several 11,000-foot passes. However, once you overcome the obstacles, the rewards are legion: few if any other trekkers, incomparable natural splendor, "untouched" villages, blissful quiet…"[7]

Environmental issues[edit]

Due to over-grazing and defecation, the national park conservation officers are facing a challenge to preserve the lake. Local people are found cutting timber wood and fuel wood, which is a problem for conservation of Rara. Also during festivals visitors and local people produce a lot of wastage causing water pollution.[8]

Transport[edit]

Tara Air taxiing down the runway in Talcha Airport

Even though the park does not have connection to the national road network, there are two ways to reach Rara National Park- airways and roadways. Roadways, it takes four days to reach Rara National Park from Kathmandu through the Karnali Highway and takes up to three days from the nearest town Jumla through means of trekking. From, Nepalgunj there is two ways to reach the lake, one is by following the salt route to Humla and another following a number of trails through Dolpo region. Through air, the nearest airport to the Rara National Park is Talcha Airport in Mugu and Jumla Airport in Jumla. There is no direct air service from Kathmandu to Mugu. Talcha can be reached from air only by getting down from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj or Surkhet. Rara National Park is mainly served by Talcha Airport, which is 4 km east of the lake. Nepal Airlines, Sita Air, Summit Air, and Tara Air operate flights to both Talcha Airport and Jumla Airport from Nepalgunj Airport. It takes approx. 3 hours to reach Rara National Park from Talcha Airport on foot.[9] Apart from this, a public bus also runs from Surkhet to Mugu headquarter Gamgadhi.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rara". Protected Planet. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e Bhuju, U. R., Shakya, P. R., Basnet, T. B., Shrestha, S. (2007). Nepal Biodiversity Resource Book. Protected Areas, Ramsar Sites, and World Heritage Sites (PDF). Kathmandu: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, in cooperation with United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. ISBN 978-92-9115-033-5.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ Khadka, M. (n.d.). "Study of Himalayan Lakes in Nepal" (PDF). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "Rara National Park".
  5. ^ Terashima, A. (1984) Three new species of the Cyprinid genus Schizothorax from Lake Rara, Northwestern Nepal. Japanese Journal of Ichthyology Vol. 31, No. 2: 122–135
  6. ^ Dubois, A., Matsui, M. (1983). A new species of frog (Genus Rana, Subgenus Paa) from western Nepal (Amphibia: Anura). Copeia: 895–901.
  7. ^ a b Gelber, E. Top Ten Treks in the Nepalese Himalaya
  8. ^ Upadhyay, S.; Chalise, L. & Paudel, R. P. (2009). "High Altitude Ramsar Sites of Nepal". The Initiation: 135–148.
  9. ^ आरके अदिप्त गिरी. "रारा की अप्सरा ! ( फोटो फिचर)". annapurna post (in Nepali). Retrieved 2022-07-21.
  10. ^ Niraula, Sujan. "Rara or Apsara...? (Photo feature)". Online Khabar (in Nepali). Retrieved 2022-07-21.

External links[edit]