Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve: The Only Habitat of the Wild Water Buffalo

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is one of the protected areas in the Terai of eastern Nepal. The reserve was established in 1976 AD and extends up to the area of 175 sq km. The reserve touches the Sunsari, Saptari, and Udayapur districts. The Reserve ranges between the altitudes of 75 m (246 ft.) to 81 m (266 ft.). Being situated at the bank of the Saptakoshi River, the reserve consists of the mudflats, freshwater marshes, reed beds, and arable land and thus is one of the best and finest bird watching destinations in Asia.

The primary aim to set up the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve was to protect the last population of the Asiatic Wild Water Buffaloes in Nepal. The major habitats include wetlands, grasslands, and small patches of the Riverine forest. The Reserve is also included in the Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance) in December 1987.

More about Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

The Koshi Tappu is rectangular shaped which is about 10 km in length and 10 km in breadth. The Reserve also allows fishing after you have a fishing permit. The vegetation mostly consist of tall grasslands. The local villagers collect grasses from the jungle within the Reserve once in a year, generally in January which they use to thatch the roofs.

How to reach Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve?

The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is easily accessible by both air and road. Regular flights are available from Kathmandu to Biratnagar. The flight duration is about 45 minutes and offers you with the amazing views of the Eastern Himalayas including Mount Everest, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. It is only 3 to 4 hours’ drive from Biratnagar to reach the Reserve.

The Reserve is almost 560 kilometers away from Kathmandu. A drive of almost 14 hours along the Mahendra highway will lead you to the Reserve. The journey goes through the hills of Mahabharata and Churia Range. The journey by the road will be a good option if you are willing to witness the hillside village and countryside lifestyle. If you have enough time, then you might prefer travel by this method.

Also, if you are looking for a more adventurous journey, then you can also choose white water rafting all the way from Sunkoshi River to SaptaKoshi River. The 8 to 10 days exciting trip is one of the most exciting white water rafting in the world. The adventure will end at the Chatara and then transfer to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve.

Best time to visit the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

The best time to visit the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is between October till March. This is because; one can witness the migratory and resident birds on the barrage and the main channel of the river during this period of the year. Also, this time prevents the heavy rainfall during the monsoon season and the extreme heat of the summer. Besides, October to March offer the visitors with the beautiful views of the mountains. The world’s fifth highest mountain Mount Makalu (8475 m) can be seen from the park.

Flora and Fauna of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

 Although, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the smallest protected area in the Terai belt of the country, the reserve is very rich in the floral and faunal diversity. The dominant vegetation is Riverine deciduous forest, grassland, and marshy field. About 68% of the Reserve is occupied by the plain grasses while only 6% is covered by the forest. The yearly flood and the domestic animals grazing keep up the pastures of the park. The wetland of reserve harbors 414 plant species. The most common among them are Eichhornia, Hydrilla and Azolla.

The Reserve is also home to many animals where about 31 species of mammals along with that, more than 200 species of fishes are found in the Reserve. The Gharial Crocodile and Mugger limit to swamps and marshes. Also, the forested ecosystem of the Reserve is the habitat for 15 globally significant species. The Reserve is also home to the wild elephant.  The Reserve also supports some 20 other animal species which includes Hog deer, wild boar, spotted deer, Blue bull and Rock Python apart from the significant contribution in protecting the wild water buffalo.

The Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

The wild water buffalo is highly endangered species restricted to South and Southeast Asia. In Nepal, the Koshi Tappu Wildlife reserve is the only habitat for the animal. The global population of the wild water buffalo is estimated less than 4000 individuals by the FAO. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve contains the second largest population of the wild water buffaloes after the Kaziranga National Park in state of Assam. And, the Reserve is the sole habitat for the wild water buffaloes in Nepal. During the establishment, there were only 63 individuals of the animal in the Reserve. The census carried out in 2016 revealed the total population of the wild water buffalo in the reserve is 432. According to census of 2011, the ornithologists recorded 17 Bengal tigers from the 9 different sites in 34 km stretch of Koshi River.

The Koshi Tappu being the only habitat for the animal, there always occur the threat to the animal in case of the disasters like flood, fire and endemics. Thus, to set up a second ecologically favorable population in the Chitwan National Park, the animals were trans located in 2017.  A pair of the wild water buffalo (one male and one female) was trans-located to the Chitwan National Park on 25th January 2017. 


Birds of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Apart from being rich in wildlife, the Reserve is an excellent destination for birds, particularly the water birds and many migratory birds such as sarus from Siberia. Some of the noticeable birds in the Reserve are Watercock, Dusky Eagle owl, Black-headed Cuckoo-shrike, and White-tailed stonechat. The total of 485 species of birds were identified in the park which include varieties of ducks, ibis, storks, egrets and herons, as well as the endangered swamp partridges and Bengal florican.


The Greater Adjutant; an endangered member of the stork family was observed in Koshi Tappu Reserve in the gap of 22 years. The last time the bird was seen in the Reserve was in 1995. The bird mainly lives in some parts of India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka but the number is decreasing due to the habitat threat.  At present, there are only 800 individual of Greater Adjutant in Assam, 150 in Bihar and 200 in Cambodia.

A new species of the Nightjar was spotted in Koshi Tappu in 2018 increasing the bird species count of the country to 863. The Nightjar is nocturnal in habitat and visit Nepal from Pakistan, South China and Northern India.

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The Status of the Birds in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

In spite of being a vast array of the migratory and the residential birds, the birds in the Reserve are not safe. The numbers of migratory birds have decreased in the recent few years. The wetlands are drying and are seriously damaged by the flood the Saptakoshi River resulting to the loss of habitat for the migratory birds. This has resulted to the decrease in the number of the birds that enter the Reserve by the onset of the winter.

In addition to this, the random use of the pesticides in the agriculture by the local people is also turning out to be a threat to the bird species. This has caused the death of several bird species in the Reserve. This has not only decreased the number of bird species in the Reserve but also lowered the number of bird watchers, ornithologists, avian visitors and researchers visiting to the park.

Activities in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

The activities you can take part in during your visit to the Reserve are;

–          Bird watching

–          Jungle safari

–          River trips and Boat riding

–          Jeep safari

 What to carry?

The visit to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve does not need special items like in trekking to the high Himalayans. However, here are some of the items you should bring with you:

–          Camera and Binoculars to enjoy fully observing animal life and abundant of diverse birds.

–          Sun screen, sun glasses and a hat

–          Hiking shoes

–          Light colored and casual cloth that will mix with the nature

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4 places to do Jungle Safari In Nepal

Nepal is famous for beautiful Himalayan ranges where the highest peak Mount Everest lies in Nepal. Not only Nepal is renowned for the mountain trekking and mountaineering worldwide but also offers for the adventurous jungle safari. Nepal is rich in biodiversity, wildlife as well as vegetations.

Nepal has ten national parks, four wildlife reserves, one hunting reserves and six conservatives areas. There are various flora and fauna in Nepal and also the treasures of medical herbs.

The southern part of Nepal, Terai low land tropical area preserve some endangered species. Jungle safari is a fantastic experience where visitors can get a chance to see the wildlife such as Bengal tiger, Musk deer, Elephant, One-horn Rihno, Gharial, Crocodile, Blue bull, wild buffalo and many other endangered species of animals, birds and so on. You will often know the traditional life of local people, variety of language and costumes.

The most popular jungle safari in Nepal.

Chitwan National Park

Chitwan National Park is the oldest national park of Nepal and also list in the World Heritage Site. Chitwan National Park is located in the subtropical Inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal, covers 932 sq. Km (360 sq mi). The area stretches in the districts of Nawalparasi, Parsa, Chitwan, and Mankwanpur.

One horned rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park Nepal

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Chitwan National Park was established in 1973 and granted the status of a World Heritage Site in 1984. Its altitude starts from 100 m (330 ft) in the river valleys to 815 m (2,674 ft) in Churia Hills.

Chitwan National Park offers jeep safari in the jungle around the national park where there is various species habitat. Chitwan National Park is the home to 68 mammals species, 600 species of birds and 55 species of amphibian and reptiles.

Chitwan is mainly known for One-horn Rhino and the king of the jungle, Bengal Tiger which lives in the dense of the forest. Besides tiger and rhino includes many species of mammals such as sloth bears, wild dogs, golden jackals, jungle cats, wild buffalo, elephants, deer, etc. Likewise, there are different kinds of birds like peacock, white-throated kingfisher, male paradise flycatcher, cuckoos, woodpeckers and many others. Similarly, includes many types of snakes, python, crocodile, gharial, etc.

Chitwan Park is one of Nepal’s most popular tourist’s destination.

Sauraha and Meghuali are two main entrance to Chitwan National Park.

Many visitors travel there to spend a vacation or have a wonderful weekend with family and friends.

Tharu community is the local inhabitants of this area. Tharu village is famous for its culture. Tharu people live near to the Chitwan National Park where they reflect the tradition.

Best time to visit Chitwan National Park is between September to March. On the months, the temperatures remain 25-35 degree Celsius.

Bardiya National Park

Jungle Safari in Bardiya National Park is a great experience, and Bardiya National Park is the largest and most undisturbed national park that was established in 1988, covering 968 sq. Km (374 sq mi) in Terai lowland Nepal. Bardiya National Park joins the eastern bank of the Karnali River and bisected by the Babai River in the Bardiya district.

Bardiya National Park

Bardiya National Park is the home to endangered Royal Bengal tiger and One-horn rhinoceros. Geographically the dense forest is cover by various factors of Sal, Savannah, grasslands with different wildlife.

The park has 53 species of mammals, 400 species of birds and 23 species of reptiles and amphibian. There are 839 species of flora and 642 species of fauna in this park.

The park offers the opportunity of fishing in Karnali River and Babai River.

The best time to visit in Bardiya is autumn, winter and early summer when the weather is warm and dry. Roads can reach Bardiya or by a flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and from Nepalgunj travel by the bus to get there. Watch the various birds and mammals through jungle walk.

Shuklaphant National park

Another jungle safari in Nepal can be done in Shuklaphant National Park. It is a protected area of the Far-Western Region located in the Kanchanpur district in Terai, covering  305 sq. Km (118 sq mi). Shuklaphant National Park is famous as the hunting area for many years.

Shuklaphant National park

The park was declared a Royal Hunting Reserve in 1969 and gazetted in 1973 as Royal Shuklaphant Wildlife Reserve. In 2012, the status of the protected area was changed to a national park.

The tropical wetlands at an altitude of 174 meters (571 ft) to 1,386 meters (4,574 ft) which extend from north of the east-west highway to Sivalik Hills.

Shuklaphant National Park is one of the best conserved examples of floodplain grassland and part of the Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands ecoregion. Shuklaphant contains 700 species of flora where grassland constitutes almost half of the reserve vegetation including 46 species of mammals, 28 fish species, 423 species of birds, 12 reptiles and amphibian.

Shuklaphant National Park can be explored by jeep or walk around the jungle.

The forest occurs different types of vegetation like Sal, Sisso, Khair includes grassland like; Themeda, Siru, Kans, Munj and so on. Similarly species of wildlife such as Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, elephant, Swamp deer, owl, woodpecker, Sarus crane, grey-headed fish eagle including reptiles many types of snakes, Indian cobra, python and mugger crocodile.

The best time to go for Shuklaphant Jungle Safari is in winter season from November to February because the temperature is moderates and the views are clear.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the smallest protected area in the Terai of eastern Nepal covering 175 sq. Km (68 sq mi) in three districts: Sunsari, Saptari, and Udhyapur. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve was established in1976 and announces as a Ramsar site in December 1987. It contains mudflats, reed beds, and floodplain of the Sapta Koshi River. The altitudes range from 75 to 81 m (256 to266 ft).

Koshi Tappu is known as a home of birds.

Koshi Tappu is mainly established to conserve the birds and wild buffalo Arna. There are more than 280 species of birds in the reserve in which watercock, Indian Nightjar, striated grassbird, large adjutant stork and many others. The Koshi Tappu barrage is extremely important as a resting place for migratory birds.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve

Despite birds, there 31 species of mammals recorded. Wild Buffalo is a protected animal including Asian elephant, spotted deer, wild boar, golden jackal, sloth bear, in which the number of Gaur and Blue bull has declined. Also, include the endangered Gharial, crocodile, and Gangetic dolphin have been preserved in The Koshi River.

The vegetation is a mixture of the riverine forest, marshy and grasslands. The grassland covers the most land compared to the forest. Local villagers are permitted to collect grass which is used for thatching roofs.

In the extensive wetlands 514 plants are found including sugar cane, kapok, reed, eelgrass, lotus and 200 species of fish as well as different species of snake. The reserve is also available for fishing.

The best time to visit in Koshi Tappu Wildlife reserve is between October to March where visitors can explore the migratory birds resides.

Travelers can go through there by air flight, private vehicle, and jeep. There are many hotels and resorts available to stay.

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