Rara National Park

8, Jan 2020 | nepaltraveller.com

Home of the biggest lake and huge diversity in Nature

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. Its main feature is Rara Lake at an altitude of 2,990 m (9,810 ft). The park was established to protect the unique flora and fauna of the Humla–Jumla 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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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. Also in 1979, the frog species Paa rarica has been first recorded as endemic to the lake.

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