Nepal’s species variety can be attributed to the country’s extremely varied climate and topography. Flora and Fauna of Nepal has some 868 species of birds, including the Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis) found only in Nepal (a worthwhile website for Nepal bird-watchers is www.birdlife Nepal. org), more than 650 butterflies (as well as over 3,900 months), and about 6,500 flowering plants. Butterflies (putali) emerge in March and April, becoming abundant by May and June. There are at least six butterfly species endemic to Nepal, ie, believed to be found only in Nepal.
Between 1998 and 2008, 353 new species were reported in the Eastern Himalaya (comprising Nepal, Bhutan, northeastern India, northern Burma, and southern Tibet). The discoveries include 242 plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, 2 birds, 2 mammals, and 61 invertebrates. Of the birds, Sykes’ nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) was discovered in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Preserve in January 2008.
In the lowlands, such as Chitwan National Park, there are subtropical forests, which support the greatest number of species. Here can be found some of the Indian subcontinent’s largest mammals, including the greater one-horned or Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), and tiger (Panthera tigris). The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) recently estimated that there are 121 adult tigers in four protected areas of the Terai.) Only small areas remain of the country’s lowland grasslands, and almost all lie within protected forest areas. They are important for a number of threatened animals, including the swamp deer, the greater one-horned rhinoceros and two of the world’s most endangered bustards, the Bengal and Lesser Florican.
At the other extreme towards the high peaks is the alpine zone which holds the smallest number of species. In spring and summer, alpine grasslands have a vibrant carpet of blooming flowers. A number of mammals, such as the bharal or blue sheep and common ghoral (an I nail ungulate that resembles both the goat and antelope) depend on high grasslands for grazing and in turn they are the vital prey of the rarely viewed and threatened snow leopard (Panthera uncia) with an estimated Nepal population of 300-400, about 10% of the world population (not including 600 in zoos). Unlike birds, wild mammals (jaanawar) are usually difficult to see in Nepal. Many of them are active only at night.