Tappu Wildlife Reserve is situated in the Sapta-Kosi River plain in the
south-eastern corner of Nepal, close to the country's border with India. The
reserve covers 175 square kilometres to the north of the kilometre-long barrage
that spans the Koshi River. This barrage was built between 1958 and 1964 to
control and prevent flooding in the plains of northern India to the south. The
vast expanse of open water created by the barrage, and the marshes, lagoons,
sandbanks, mudflats and arable land that lie around it, offer an outstanding
wetland habitat, and one of the finest birdwatching sites in Asia. Extensive
woodlands and grasslands further complement these wetlands and substantially
enhance the numbers and variety of birds and mammals of the reserve and its
general area. Koshi Camp, our comfortable tourist-standard tented camp, with
its restaurant and bar, is situated in a fairly remote rural position on the
eastern side of the reserve, 18 kilometres to
the north of the Koshi barrage. Not far away is the reserve headquarters, and
close by lies a complex of local fishponds and swamps rich in birdlife.
Seventeen kilometres to the north of Koshi Camp lies the Koshi Bird
Observatory, a Nepalese centre for conservation, training, ringing and research
that you may wish to visit during your stay.
Habitat and Birdlife
The heart of the reserve lies some 14 kilometres north of the barrage, where seasonally inundated grasslands, lagoons, and remnant patches of Khair (Acacia catechu) and Sissoo (Dalbergia sissoo) forest lie alongside the eastern bank of the Koshi River and on the islands that span its wide shallow waters that are a kilometre or two wide in places. Almost all of Nepal's long list of wildfowl, waders, storks, ibises, egrets, terns and gulls occur here from time to time, plus a great variety of landbirds, especially warblers and birds of prey. With luck and sharp eyes, in excess of 100 species may be seen on each day of one’s stay in this wonderful area, amongst them such local specialities as Bengal Florican, Indian Courser, Swamp Francolin, Red-necked Falcon, Striated Grassbird and Rufous-vented Prinia. ‘Inland’ from, and east of, the Koshi River and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lie two forests – Rhamdhuni Forest and the much larger Patnali Forest, part of the extensive Dharan Forest. These two sites offer excellent forest birding, with many of the Sal and riverine forest species such as Indian Pied and Grey Hornbills, orioles, woodpeckers, minivets, drongos, flycatchers that may be found in Chitwan and other lowland forests. They are also good for eastern rarities, Jerdon’s Baza, Blue-eared Barbet, Black-naped Oriole and Siberian Blue Robin being amongst some of the interesting finds we have had in recent years.
The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is the last refuge of the wild Water Buffalo in Nepal, a species you are likely to see during your stay here. Other mammals recorded include Asian Elephant, Leopard, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Smooth-coated Otter, Golden Jackal, Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Nilgai (or "blue bull" – the subcontinent's largest antelope), Indian Flying Fox, Black Giant Squirrel (a speciality of Patnali Forest), the nocturnal Common Palm Civet and Indian Palm Civet, the exquisite Bengal Fox, several species of mongoose, and the endangered Ganges River Dolphin. You cannot expect to see all of these species during a short stay, but you will see some of them.