CHITWAN, June 17: The Phulchowki hills situated 20 km southeast of Kathmandu and home to some 265 species of birds, is the most popular among 27 key bird-watching spots in the country. The only such bird-watching spot in Chitwan district included in this list is Chitwan National Park.
However, a study has recently found another ideal spot for bird-watching in Chitwan.
According to ornithologists involved in the study over the last three years, all the bird species found at Phulchowki are also found in Chepanggaun, a hill village in Chitwan.
Basu Bindari, chairperson of Bird Education Society Chitwan, said, “As of now, Philchowki has been the most popular destination for bird watchers. But, the hill areas of Chitwan should also be promoted for bird-watching since the birds founds at Phulchowki are also to be found there.”
According to a team of ornithologists doing a four-day study of bird habitats, an additional 80 species of birds new to the country were found this year alone. They also claim an increase in the number of bird species in Chitwan.
Bird Education Society chairperson Bindari said that different species of birds, including babblers, warblers, woodpeckers, eagles and many migrants that are found at Phulchowk can be found in Chapanggaun also.
However, he declined to disclose the names of all the species. A book recording the species is to be published by next month and it will be a first of its kind for the district.
As per the ornithologists, over 600 species of birds are found in Chitwan, including 569 species from earlier findings, and these will all be included in the upcoming book. The book should be a boon to bird enthusiasts, it is claimed.
The bird habitat study also shows an increase of over 30 species new to the country within three years in Chitwan alone. The new-found species are also to be found in Pakistan, Burma, Bhutan, India and Afghanistan.
Nepal hosts 862 species of birds out of the 9,040 species found in the world while Chitwan alone hosts over 600 of them. The birds found in the district comprise 80 percent of all bird species in the country, according to ornithologists.
Ornithologist Hem Subedi argued that it is high time the government declared Chepanggaon a bird-watching hotspot.
The spiny babbler, which is found only in Nepal, was seen in Chitwan some two years ago and its population in the district is large, according to Subedi.
However, due to lack of research on its habitat, it is very difficult to locate the population concentrations of this species, he added.
Another ornithologist, Tika Giri, said that spiny babblers, which are popular among tourists, are mostly found in the Mahabharat range in Chitwan.
Meanwhile, ornithologists fear that the spiny babbler may fall victim to hunting, and hence local communities including the Chepang and Gurung should be made aware of the need to protect and conserve the unique bird.
According to ornithologist Dr Hemsagar Baral, around 159 species of birds in the country are endangered but the government is yet to come up with a plan to protection them.