Dhorpatan: The only hunting reserve in Nepal

Dhorpatan: The only hunting reserve in Nepal

Dhorpatan hunting reserve, the one place in Nepal where trophy hunting is legal

Luscious trees, tranquil environment, and friendly faces, what more can one ask for while looking for a break? Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is the place that one needs to add in their to-do list. Reaching a place like Dhorpatan is an adventure in itself with its complicated geography and serene nature. Photo: Anmol Bhandari

How it all began:

Established in 1983, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, extending to 1325 sq km, is the only hunting reserve in the country. While trophy hunting was one of the most famous sports for royals and the ruling elite back in the days, today there are a lot of restrictions in place for preservation.

Gazetted only after four years of its establishment in 1987, Dhorpatan not only plays a part as a hunting reserve but it is also a conservation area at the present. With its complicated geography, and vague climate, the forest includes different rare floras and faunas. As for the preservation, the reserve is divided into seven blocks for hunting for management purposes which helps the officials to keep tabs on the animals. The seven blocks are known as:

  • Sundaha
  • Seng
  • Dogadhi
  • Guhustung
  • Barse
  • Falgune
  • Shrutiban

This also helps with the number of animals that could be given for hunting every year. On all the blocks the hunters can hunt for Himalayan blue sheep, and goral. But in Barse one can not hunt for blue sheep as the population of it is low and Shrutiban, the lowest block, one can only hunt for goral.Photo: Anmol BhandariPhoto: Anmol Bhandari

Hunting at Dhorpatan:

Dhorpatan is said to be a very challenging hunting reserve due to its difficult land structures, and the sudden changes in the climate. Over the years, numbers of hunters take helicopters to reach the hunting reserve. Talking to the officials of Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, Birendra Prasad Kandel, says, “Numbers of hunters over the years come on helicopters for hunting. But to get the full experience of the reserve itself, it is better to take a guide and go hunting. The reserve focuses on the conservation of flora and fauna and if you are lucky you would also get a chance to see some rare animals as well.” For now we are allowing trophy hunting only for two seasons from March to April and the other one in September to November. We perform consensus on the animals found in the forest, and decide how many animals will be for hunting.”

For the upcoming hunting season, the reserve has counted 19 Himalayan Blue Sheep, also known as Naur or Bharal in Nepali, and 14 Himalayan Goral. As for how they decide which animal is for hunting and which is not, he says, “We perform census counts on the animals that are already old, above 12 years old and have horns of or more than 25 inches and hunting of female species is not allowed,” says Kandel.

For the hunting, one must participate in the bidding and the highest bidder gets a chance to go on for the hunting from 10 to 15 days.Photo: Anmol BhandariPhoto: Anmol Bhandari

What is the objective:

The main objective of the reserve is to allow sports hunting and preserve a high altitude ecosystem as the altitude varies from 3000m to 7000m. But that is not the only thing the hunting reserve is popular for, many go there for trekking which gives one a chance to observe the rare wild animals such as Musk deer, Wolf, Red panda, Cheer pheasant and Himalayan monal (Danphe) and beautiful view of Himalayas. On the other hand, it is also a home for 137 species of birds. Endangered animals in the reserve include.

The reserve not only houses different species of animals and birds but also is a home for many as it is surrounded by villages on all sides except the north. The majority of people living in Dhorpatan come from the Mongoloid race from Magar, Thakali, to Gurung. So when one visits the place, they will get to see a mixed pattern of cultures and traditions.

Khandel says, “The hunting reserve not only brings in hunting tourism but also focuses on giving job opportunities for locals. The locals work in the reserve from preservation to hunting guides for the tourists.”Photo: Anmol BhandariPhoto: Anmol Bhandari

And people depend on the reverse not only for hunting but also for timber, fuelwood, fodder, and pasture. Every year the villagers leave their livestock at the reserve for grazing that starts from February till October. And the records say that more than 80,000 livestock enter the reserve for grazing as the pasturelands cover more that 50 per cent of the reserve.

Due to the weather and geographic structure of the reserve, it is characterized by alpine, sub-alpine and high temperate vegetation. Common plant species include fir, pine, birch, rhododendron, hemlock, oak, juniper and spruce.

Dhorpatan is also well known for Dhorbaraha, a religious place lying on the banks of Uttargana river. Every August devotees go there during the time of “Janai Purnima ” to attend fairs and perform religious rituals.

Photo: Anmol Bhandari

How to get there:

Journey from Kathmnandu to Dhorpatan is not a short one. From Kathmandu one can take a jeep or a bus for a 16 hours journey. For the tickets you would have to go to the new Gongabu Bus Park. While the jeep leaves around 6 am for Dhorpatan, the bus leaves in the afternoon around 2 pm.

Public bus service is available from Kathmandu to Burtibamg via Baglung Bazaar. The other route is via Tansen-Tamgash Gulmi also. The visitors can reach by foot from Beni, Myagdi to Dhorpatan within 3 days as well. Helicopter services are also available on request from Kathmandu and Pokhara.

There is a limited amount of homestay and hotels around the reserve, so it might be a bit hard to find rooms during the tourist season.Photo: Anmol BhandariPhoto: Anmol Bhandari

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