Khaptad National Park lies south of the Himalayan range in far western Nepal in Seti Zone. Khaptad is the only protected area representative of Nepal’s western mid-mountain region (Inskipp 1992). It is an isolated massif with the highest point at 3300m. The top is a rolling plateau of extensive grasslands interspersed with oak/coniferous forests of Quercus semecarpifolia/Abies spectabilis/Rhododendron barbatum/Tsuga dumosa, shrubberies of Rhododendron barbatum and berberis, and boggy areas. The slopes of the massif are thickly vegetated with broadleaved forests of Quercus lanata, Q. floribunda/Q. leucotricophora lower down. Higher up there is a mixed forest of Q. semecarpifolia/Q. floribunda, hemlock Tsuga dumosa, fir Abies pindrow and maple Acer, and on southern and western slopes Q. semecarpifolia/Rhododendron arboreum with some dense bamboo stands. Subtropical forest covers a small area of the park and comprises Chir Pine Pinus roxburghii and broadleaved forest. A small lake, Khaptad Daha, lies on the top at 3050m (Inskipp 1989b).
A total of 243 bird species have been recorded in the park (Inskipp 1989a,b, 1992, Halliday 1994, Giri and Choudhary 1996, Khadka 1996a, Regmi and Khadka 1996). There are 20 additional species that need further confirmation of their occurrence at Khaptad (Khadka 1996b, Regmi and Khadka 1996). Four near-threatened species, including Satyr Tragopan, which is resident, one globally threatened and two restricted-range species have been recorded. The lake is a useful staging post for small numbers of migrant waterfowl (Khadka 1996b). Khaptad has large areas of temperate forest and is known to support significant populations of characteristic species of the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest biome.
Non-bird biodiversity: A total of 21 species of mammals has been reported from Khaptad (Khadka 1996a) including the globally threatened Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Asiatic Wild Dog Cuon alpinus.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The forests on Khaptad's upper slopes are exploited far less than many others in Nepal. This is partly because the park lies in the country's least populated zone and also because considerable forests still remain in surrounding districts and these are more easily accessible. However, the Chir pine Pinus roxburghii forests on the lower slopes have been seriously degraded by fires, which are lit annually by local people to encourage the growth of grasses for their grazing animals. The extent of subtropical broadleaved forest on the lower slopes is limited and under particular threat. Local villagers living on the edge of the park were observed making daily trips to this forest to cut grass, foliage and firewood. There was also evidence of much grazing (Inskipp 1989b, Halliday 1994).
Khaptad's grasslands are overgrazed, and in boggy areas of the grasslands this has led to the development of gullies up to 1-2 m deep and wide and the loss of some vegetational cover, resulting in bare soil patches which have given way to dust holes in places. Local people fill in pools to prevent their cattle from drowning. Surveys were planned by park staff to determine livestock numbers and the carrying capacity of the grasslands. The building of dams and the establishment of plantations were also planned to counteract erosion. Conservation education for the villagers in the park's surrounding districts is urgently needed. Important initial steps have been taken by the park's wardens, but much remains to be done (Inskipp 1989b).