Rara National Park

Year of compilation: 2005

Site description
Rara National Park, the smallest protected area in Nepal lies in the northwest of the country in Mugu and Jumla districts. Lake Rara, Nepal’s largest lake,, is the most prominent feature in this national park; it has an area of 1036ha and has a maximum depth of 167m. Rooted vegetation is confined entirely to the margins and is patchy in distribution as the rocky edges of the lake shelve steeply in places (Barber 1990). Forest types comprise upper temperate Pinus wallichiana (sometimes mixed with Quercus semecarpifolia) and Juniperus spp., and subalpine forests of Abies spectabilis, Betula utilis, Juniperus spp. and Rhododendron spp. (Inskipp 1989a). Except for a moist marshland on the south shore of the lake the pastures are mainly tussock grasslands on the ridges and above the tree-line (Barber (1990).

Key biodiversity
A total of 235 has been recorded (Giri 2005), but the park is very under-recorded. The national park could be especially important for Cheer Pheasant, a globally threatened and restricted-range species; a survey for the species in the park is being carried out in spring 2005 (Budthapa in prep.). The park is also important for White-throated Tit and Kashmir Nuthatch, two other restricted-range species from the Western EBA, which are both resident in the park. The lake is a valuable staging post for migrating wetland birds; around 40 species have been recorded so far, although only small numbers are involved. Rara National Park has large temperate forest and alpine zone areas. These support significant populations of characteristic species of the Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest and Eurasian High Montane biomes respectively.

Non-bird biodiversity: Globally threatened mammals include the Red Panda Ailurus fulgens, Asiatic Black Bear Ursus thibetanus and Himalayan Musk Deer Moschus chrysogaster (Hilton-Taylor 2000). The lake has some endemic fish species (Prof. Jiwan Shrestha verbally 2000).

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
In 1976 when the park was designated it was decided that the local villagers, numbering around 600, would be moved 145 km southwest of Rara to Chisapani in the terai. Neighbouring villagers still utilise the park by collecting leaf litter for compost and by grazing their livestock in certain areas. They are however dissatisfied as the land allocated for grazing is insufficient and there is a complete restriction on cutting of trees for firewood within the park. Another complaint is that wild animals, such as the Wild Boar Sus scrofa cause widespread damage to crops. Conservation awareness amongst local communities is low. Very few tourists visit Rara (Barber 1990, Tika Giri verbally 2000). The UNDP funded Participatory Conservation Programme is working in the park to try and improve the standard of living of local communities in the park. The success of the project is not known. A management plan is currently being prepared by the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation and this NGO may take over management of the national park in the foreseeable future.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Rara National Park. Downloaded from on 30/05/2020.