The Chitwan National Park
The Chitwan valley once covered an area of 2760 sq km, with the Chure hills offering a natural border. Being a den of malaria, the valley, secluded from human habitation, except for Tharus who maintained a natural resistance to the disease, kept the valley of Chitwan aloof from rest of the country. Hunting and agriculture were their main occupation.
A haven of wildlife, the valley of Chitwan was the hunting ground of the Royalty and The Rana aristocracy of Nepal and they landed in winter when the malaria risk was low ,for big game hunting. The Rhinoceros and Tiger were branded as a Royal game and no one except The King or The Prime Minister could hunt them. The hunting camps were huge and provided every luxury. The British Royalty were regularly invited for hunts in Chitwan and the last invitees were Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip in 1961. They however refrained from hunting due to the pressure of Ecology and Pro wildlife groups in Britain and Prince Phillip displayed a fake bandage on his finger to show that he was unable to do any shooting.
After the Rana rule was overthrown in 1950, The Government of Nepal started a massive anti malaria campaign with the help of WHO. In a few years malaria totally disappeared and the hill people were resettled in Chitwan, resulting in maximum deforestation.
To protect the dwindling wildlife A portion of Chitwan was declared as a National Park in 1973. The present area of the park is 932 sq.km with the Chure hills and the rivers Rapti and Narayani forming a natural boundary. The park currently offers protection to a large number of wildlife consisting of 68 species of mammals and 544 species of birds. The park is renowned for its population of One horned Rhinoceros and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger.