The Barandabhar forest ranges from 1.8-7 km in width and stretches from Royal Chitwan National Park in the south to the Mahabharat Range in the north. The forest south of the Mahendra Highway lies in the park's buffer zone. The forest area includes Sal Shorea robusta, riverine forest Trewia nudiflora, Bombax cebia, Mallotus philippensis, Dalbergia sissoo/Acacia catechu, mixed forest, shrubs and wetlands (streams, lakes, canals and water holes) (Adhikari et al. 2000, Dahal 2003). Bees Hazari Tal is a wetland lying within the forest corridor.
A total of 282 bird species has been recorded in Barandbhar forest and Bees Hazari Tal, including the globally threatened Lesser Adjutant and near-threatened Great Hornbill, Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus and Darter Anhinga melanogaster (Baral 1996, Adhikari et al. 2000, Dahal 2002, 2003). More species are likely to be found with further work. Surveys have shown that, although it is small, Barandabhar is an extremely important forest corridor, providing a migration route for the passage of birds and other wildlife (Dahal 2002). Bees Hazari Tal is also an important wetland for birds and other wildlife.
Non-bird biodiversity: Little work has been done on other wildlife. The globally threatened Tiger Panthera tigris, Indian Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis and Mugger Crocodile Crocodylus palustris have been recorded.
Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
The southern tip of Barandabhar forest, which lies in the buffer zone, is managed by Royal Chitwan National Park. The remaining forest north of the Mahendra Highway is managed by the District Forest Office of Chitwan District. Bees Hazari Tal was designated a Ramsar site in 2003. Heavy human settlement surrounding the area has led to the excessive dependence of people on the forest and its products (Dahal 2002). The forest area suffers from encroachment for collection of firewood, fodder and other forest products, livestock grazing, tree-felling by local people, illegal timber removal on a larger scale, and forest clearance near villages (Adhikari et al. 2000). Small-scale hunting is taking place. Dahal (2002) also reported poisoning of lakes and streams to kill fish, which threatens wetland birds and other aquatic life.
The condition of Bees Hazari Tal was good as late as the 1980s and a number of waders, waterfowl and other bird species as well as reptiles and mammals were seen frequently. The lake is now seriously disturbed and the habitat has deteriorated, mainly because of picnickers and also by people fishing and collecting firewood. The recent designation of the lake as a Ramsar Site has not helped improve the status of wildlife in the area. A recent visit to the area revealed further deterioration of the significance of the lake as refuge for important wetland dependent wildlife. Because of massive infestation by aquatic weeds, open water is drastically reduced (Dhirendra Pradhan verbally 2005). Some streams are affected by the removal of sand and stones and by pollution.