Eastern Region at a Glance
The Eastern Sector embraces the snow-capped peaks including Mt. Everest with Solukhumbu, Sankhuwasabha, and Taplejung districts towards the north, the jungle clad hill tracts of Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Bhojpur, Tehrathum and Panchthar in the Mid and the alluvial fertile plains of Siraha, Saptari, Sunsari, Morang and Jhapa is a veritable accumulation of flora and fauna in all its comprehendible multiplicities in the south. This is not only the most tempting and captivating part of Nepal displaying nature's bounty at its best but also pretends a wide diversity of cultures woven together by the underlying thread of nationalism. The profusion of natural resources connected with the amiable and warm nature of the inhabitants makes the region uniquely different.
Sagarmatha National Park, Makalu-Barun National Park and Conservation Area and Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies in the eastern region.
Headquarters of Eastern Division, occupying Itahari Barracks, just 200 meters from the main junction from where you divert toBiratnagar, Dharan, and Jhapa, which ends at the eastern border demarcation with West Bengal of India. The history of the region is replete with stories of uncanny heroic deeds of valour and sacrifice till date. The close proximity to neighbouring countries adds significance to its strategic geopolitical position and standing.
With such a glorious past and major on-going commitments, the ED has much to be proud of.
The Eastern Development Region (EDR) consists about 28,456 square kilometre area with Dhankuta as the headquarters. There are 3 zones (Mechi, Koshi and Sagarmatha), 16 districts (Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Terhathum, Sankhuwasabha, Bhojpur, Okhaldhunga, Khotang, Solukhumbu, Udaypur, Saptari and Siraha), 893 Village Development Committees (VDCs), one sub-metropolitans (Biratnagar) and 14 municipalities (Ilam, Bhadrapur, Damak, Mechinagar, Dharan, Inaruwa, Itahari, Dhankutta, Khandbari, Rajbiraj, Lahan, Siraha and Triyuga) in the EDR.
Like other development regions, EDR has three-fold geographical division- Himalayan in the north, Hilly in the middle and Terai in the southern part and vary between altitudes of 60 m the lowest point in Nepal and 8,848 m the highest in the world. Terai, extended from east to west, is made up of alluvial soil, to the west of Koshi River, in between Mahabharata and Churia, there elongates a valley called Inner Terai. Churia rages, Mahabharata, hills of various height, basins, tars and valleys form hilly region. Some parts of this region are favourable for agriculture but some other parts are not.
Himalayans region, in the north, consist of many mountains ranges. MahalangurKumbhakarna, Umvek, Lumbasumba and Janak are some of them. The highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest (8848 metre), and the third highest mountain, Kanchanjunga (8598 meters) lie in this region. KechanaKalan (60 m), Nepal's lowest point is located in Jhapa district of this development region. There are many river basins and gentle slopes as well. Churia, Mahabharata, many basins, tars and valleys form the Terai region. Between the Churia and Mahabharata a low land of inner Terai exists. The KoshiRiver(Nepal’s largest river system) flows through the region with its seven tributaries like Indrawati, Likhu, Tamor, Dudhkoshi, Arun, Tamakoshi and Bhotekhoshi. There are other rivers as well. Tundra vegetables, coniferous forest, deciduous monsoon forests and sub-tropical evergreen woods are vegetation found here. Sub-tropical, temperate, sub-temperate, and alpine and tundra types of climates are found here. The longest waterfall the Hyatrung lies in Tehrathum. Nepal's biggest forest, the CharkosheJhadi is found in the Sunsari district.
Gaighat, Itahari, and Katari are important parts of the inner Terai. It lies in the Terai to the south of Churia. The Terai region has fertile alluvial soil. The river Sunkoshi originates from the LangtangHimal and flows towards the east to joins in the Koshi along with its tributaries. Most part of this development region is irrigated by this river Koshi. It merges into holy river Ganges after entering to India.
The other important rivers of EDRare Kamala, Mainabati, The Sagarmatha national park and Makalu Barun National lies in the region. Biratnagar, Dharan, Dhankutta, Itahari, Lahan, Rajbiraj, Gaighat etc. are major cities.
National Parks and a wild life reserve is another important feature. Vegetation in the Sagarmatha Park varies from pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch and rhododendron woods at mid-elevations, scrub and alpine plant communities higher up and bare rock and snow above tree line. The famed bloom of rhododendrons occurs during the spring (April and May) although much of the flora is most colourful during the monsoon season (June to August).
The wild animals most likely to be seen in the park are the Himalayan tahr, goral, serow, musk deer and Himalayan black bear. Other mammals are weasels, martens. Himalayan mouse hare (Pika), jackals and langur.
The park provides a habit for at least 118 species of birds. The most common birds to be seen are the Impeyen pheasant (the national bird of Nepal), blood pheasant, cheer pheasant, jungle crow, red billed and yellow billed coughs and snow pigeon. Fairly common birds are the Himalayan griffon, lammergier, snow partridge, skylark and many others.
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve lies on the flood plain of the Sapta-Koshi in Saptari and Sunsari Districts. Koshi Tappu Reserve, gazetted in 1976, was established mainly to preserve habitat for the remaining population of wild buffalo.
A rectangular shaped reserve, approximately 10 km wide and 10 km long, stretches northward from the Nepal/India border along the Sapta Koshi River. The vegetation is mainly tall khar-pater grassland with a few pater grassland with a few patches of khair-sissoo (Acacia catechu-Dalbergia sissoo) scrub forest and deciduous mixed riverine forest. The reserve offers important habitat for a variety of wildlife. The last surviving population (about 100 individuals) of wild buffalo or arna are found here. They are distinguished from domestic animals by their much bigger horns. Other mammals occurring here are hog deer, wild boar, spotted deer and blue bull. The reserve also assists the local economy by providing fishing permits and allowing the collection of edible fruits and ferns in season. A total of 280 different species of birds have been recorded in the reserve. These include twenty species of ducks, two species of ibises, many storks, egrets, herons and the endangered swamp partridge and Bengal florican. The Koshi Barrage is extremely important as a resting place for migratory birds and many species recorded. The endangered Gharial crocodile and Gangetic dolphin have been recorded.
High in the heart of the eastern Himalayan, seven valleys radiate from Mt. Makalu, the world's fifth highest peak. These valleys, particularly the Barun valley, treasure some of the last remaining pristine forest and alpine meadows. From the bottom of the Arun valley, at just 435 m above sea level, the Himalayas rise to the snow-capped tip of Makalu 8463 m within a 40 km distance. Within this wide range of altitudes and climates, the Makalu-Barun area contains some of the richest and most diverse pockets of plants and animals.
The Park was established in 1992 as Nepal's eighth national park and the first to include and adjacent inhabited conservation area as a buffer. Covering 2330 sq. km Makalu-Barun is a vital component of the greater Mount Everest ecosystem which includes Nepal's 1,148 sq. km Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park to the west and the 35000 sq. km Comolangma Nature Preserve in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north.
The incredibly steep topography and abundant monsoon rains (1000 to 4000 mm per year) of the eastern Himalayan support unusually diverse bioclimatic zones and a rich storehouse of medicinal and useful plants. Alpine pastures above 4000 m contain the religiously important dwarf rhododendron and juniper, aromatic herbs and delicate wildflowers, including 47 different varieties of orchids. Subalpine forests of fir, birch and rhododendron, and temperate stands of oak, maple and magnolia thrive between 2-4000 m. Luxuriant orchids drape the chestnut and pine forests of the subtropical zone (1-2000 m) and sal forests reach their northernmost limit within Nepal along the banks of the Arun (below 1000 m).
The park has 400 species of birds, including the spotted wren babbler and the olive ground warbler. These two species have never been seen in Nepal before.
There are many wild animals including the endangered red panda, Himalayan black bear and the clouded leopard. Other wildlife found in the park is: ghoral, tahr, wild boar, barking deer, Himalayan marmot and weasel, common langur monkey and the serow. The Arun River gushing through the park has around 84 varieties of fish including salmon.