Shuklaphanta National Park, home to swamp deer, is a major tourist attraction in the far western region of Nepal.
Shuklaphanta National Park was originally a game reserve in 1969.
Although it is the smallest national park among those in the Tarai region of the country, it has a distinct identity and plays an important role in wildlife conservation.
The huge grasslands provide suitable habitats for marsh deer which can be seen in abundance in the park.
Of the 305 square kilometer area of the park, grasslands occupy 55 square kilometres.
According to a recent census, the park is home to 2,314 swamp deer, including 858 adult females and 262 adult males. The marsh deer population has remained stable since 2014.
Many towers, up to three stories high, have been built so that visitors can watch the swamp deer.
However, according to park data, only about 3,000 tourists visit the park every year.
The grasslands where the wildlife of the national park can be seen are located 18 kilometers southwest of Majgaun, the gateway to the national park. Visitors can take a jeep to get there.
Apart from marsh deer, the park is also home to tigers, blue bulls (Boselaphus tragocamelus), and peacocks, among others.
According to the recent tiger census, the park has 36 tigers. There were 19 tigers in the park four years ago.
Additionally, the park has become famous among wildlife enthusiasts for studying rhinos in recent years. Four years ago, five rhinos were transferred to Shuklaphanta from Chitwan National Park. A census carried out two years ago revealed 16 rhinos in the park.
The park already had 10 rhinos before the five joined Chitwan.
The Blackbucks are another national park attraction. The Hirapur area of the park has been set aside for the conservation of blackbucks, which number 203. Forty-two blackbucks were brought into the park from Banke and Bardiya districts between 2012 and 2015.
Apart from the grasslands, the park also has a Sal forest, wetlands and half a dozen lakes. The park is also considered a major destination for bird watchers as 450 species of birds can be found in the park.
It is also home to 56 species of mammals.
After a one-hour flight from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi, another 50 km journey takes you to Mahendranagar. Traveling on the road from Kathmandu to Mahendranagar takes 18 to 22 hours.
Auto rickshaws or other vehicles can be borrowed to reach the park gate from Mahendranagar. Mornings and evenings are considered the best time to visit the park.