Himchari National Park - A Birdwatcher's Paradise
Located just south of the town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, the Himchari National Park is comprised of lush tropical rain forest, grasslands and trees, and features a number of waterfalls, the biggest of which cascades down toward the sandy, sun-drenched beach. The natural beauty of the area provides a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of city life, for locals as well as tourists. The flora and fauna in the area is abundant and birders never fail to be delighted at the extensive bird-life.
To protect the area from encroaching developments, Himchari National Park was established in 1980 by the Bangladeshi government as a conservation area for research, education and recreation. At one time the stomping grounds of herds of Asian elephant, Himchari is still home to a limited number of these majestic animals. Other mammals that visitors may see when exploring the park include Gibbon, Rhesus Macaque, Leopard Cat, Fishing Cat, Tiger, Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Dhole (also known as the Asiatic Wild Dog) and Indian Muntjac. Additionally the Himchari National Park is home to around 56 species of reptiles and 13 amphibian species.
There are well over 100 species of trees, shrubs, grasses, canes, palms, ferns and herbs in the park, while beautiful orchids break the innumerable shades of green with splashes of color. Many of the herbs found in Himchari National Park have therapeutic properties that the local people understand and can make use of. This wide variety of plant life provides suitable habitats for the more than 286 species of birds that call the park home, including the Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Asian Palm Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) and Acridotheres fuscus. The latter is a genus of Starling that has been introduced into other parts of the world, such as South Africa, Hawaii, Israel, Australia and New Zealand, where it is often referred to as an Indian Myna.
Himchari National Park welcomes more than two million visitors each year, with the majority of holiday-makers in the ever-popular seaside town Cox’s Bazar taking time out to explore the reserve, while others travel from Dhaka to spend the day. If you are planning a visit to Bangladesh, try to include a visit to the Himchari National Park – a treasure trove of natural wonders.