Sagarmatha National Park (Khumbu Region)
Sagarmatha National Park is a protected area in the Himalayas of eastern part of Nepal which covers an area of 1148 square kilometers in the Khumbu region of the country. It is the highest national park in the world, with the entire park located above 3,000 m (9,700 ft).The Park includes the highest peak in the world Mt. Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest 8848 m.) and several other well known peaks such as Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Pumori, Ama Dablam, Thamerku, Kwangde, Kangtaiga and Gyachyung Kang. With its terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers, unlike other parks this park can be divided into four climate zones.
- A forested lower zone,
- A zone of alpine scrub,
- The upper alpine zone which includes upper limit of vegetation growth,
- The Arctic zone where no plants can grow.
As Mt. Sagarmatha (Everest) and the surrounding area is of major significance not only to Nepal but to the rest of the world, its status as a national park since 1976 is planned to safeguard its unique cultural, physical and scientific values through positive management based on sound conservation principles.
The types of plants and animals that are found in the park depend on the altitude. Vegetation in the park varies from pine and hemlock forests at lower altitudes, fir, juniper, birch, blue pines, bamboo and rhododendron woods at mid-elevations, scrub and alpine plant communities higher up and bare rock and snow above tree line. Above this zone all vegetation are found to be dwarf or shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750 m (18,690 ft), because this is the permanent snow line in the Himalayas.
The Sagarmatha National Park is one of the most beautiful places on the Earth, especially in summer. After the first monsoon rains in June, the hillsides become green and different varieties of flowers start blooming, and butterflies of myriad species appear in different colors. Due to the presence of insects in the environment, many kinds of birds are also seen in the park. 118 species of birds and 26 species of butterflies have made this park their home. The most common birds to be seen are the Impeyen pheasant or Lophophorus (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, lammergeyer, snow partridge, skylark and many others.
The endangered animals residing in this park are Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Wild Yak, Red Panda and Himalayan Black Bear. Big mammals commonly seen in the park are the Himalayan Thar and Musk Deer. Other mammals include the Jackal, Weasels, Marten, Common Langur, the Himalayan Mousehare (Pika) and Himalayan Wolves. However, their numbers are not very large and many visitors may not be able to see them.
Sagarmatha is an exceptional area with dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys. The presence of the Sherpas, with their unique culture, adds further interest to this site. A well-known destination for mountain tourism, Sagarmatha National Park was gazette in 1976 and with over 2,500 Sherpa people living within the park has combined nature and culture since its inception.
Encompassing the infinitely majestic snow capped peaks of the Great Himalayan Range, the chain of mountains including the world’s highest Mt. Sagarmatha (Everest) and extensive Sherpa settlements that embody the openness of Sagarmatha National Park to the rest of the world. The carefully preserved natural heritage and the dramatic beauty of the high, geologically young mountains and glaciers were recognized by UNESCO with the inscription of the park as a world heritage site in 1979. The property hosts over 20 villages with over 6000 Sherpas who have inhabited the region for the last four centuries. Continuing their traditional practice of cultural and religion including the restriction of animal hunting and slaughtering, and reverence of all living beings. These practices combined with indigenous natural resource management practices, have been major contributing factors to the successful conservation of the Sagarmatha National Park.
The park is also of major religious and cultural significance in Nepal as it abounds in holy places such as the Thyangboche and also is the homeland of the Sherpas whose way of life is unique, compared with other high-altitude dwellers. The people are primarily Tibetan Buddhists. Their activities are primarily agricultural or trade based. They are famous for their skill as mountaineers. They are friendly and gladly share their heritage.
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