History of Nepal Conservation

Small country, big impact

Even though Nepal only covers an area roughly the size of Iowa, its intrepid approach to protecting the environment has made it a conservation giant. As WWF-Nepal celebrates its 20-year anniversary, here’s a look at some of the country’s biggest environmental achievements.

A Living Laboratory

Together, Nepal and WWF have implemented major conservation innovations over the past two decades—and influenced the world. Here, a few of those initiatives, as well as a sampling of other regions where WWF is helping implement them.

Piloting new antipoaching technology

Northern Great Plains

Expanding community stewardship


Protecting natural wildlife corridors

Northern Great Plains
Southern Africa
The Amazon

Human-wildlife conflict mitigation


Nepal's Conservation History (1957-2014)

Government Action

WWF Involvement






  1. 1957

    Wildlife Conservation Act is the first act to identify the importance of protecting wildlife in Nepal.

    Nepal mountainscape


  1. 1967

    WWF starts working in Nepal when it launches a rhino conservation program in Chitwan Valley.

    Nepal rhino
  2. [Late 1960s] First rhino conservation units are set up to start protecting depleted rhino populations.


  1. 1973

    Nepal establishes Chitwan National Park, the country’s first national park.

    Chitwan Valley
  2. WWF grants $38,000 to the Smithsonian to study tigers in Chitwan, allowing scientists to successfully use radio tracking for the first time.

    Nepal tiger
  3. National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act provides for the conservation of natural areas and wildlife and sustains the welfare of the people.

    Grasslands, Khata, Nepal

    27 mammal species, 9 bird species and 3 reptile species are given legal protection under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act.


  1. 1980

    Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation is set up as a separate entity under the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.

    Churia Range forest, Nepal, Himalayas
  2. 1982

    Royal Bardia National Reserve is officially formed.

    Women carrying wood from community forests that are managed by Community Forest Co-ordination Committees (CFCC) in Thagugwara area, Royal Bardia National Park, Western Terai, Nepal.
  3. 1985

    WWF expands conservation programs in Asia, showcasing the new Annapurna Conservation Area, the largest protected area in the country.

    View of Jharkot Monstery near Muktinah, with snow-covered mountains in the background. Manang District, Annapurna Area, Nepal.
  4. 1988

    Royal Bardia National Reserve becomes Royal Bardia National Park, Nepal’s largest national park.

    On elephant on patrol duties, Bardia National park, Terai Arc Landscape, Nepal

    Nepal now has 10 national parks, 3 wildlife reserves, and 6 conservation areas, a system which covers more than 13,000 square miles—an area larger than the US state of Maryland.


  1. 1991

    WWF begins antipoaching work with Nepal. WWF-Nepal and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation seek to identify deterrents to tiger and rhino poaching in the national parks. Antipoaching units are formed in Chitwan and Bardia national parks.

    Zero poaching ranger.

    Community-based antipoaching units were originally set up to reduce the level of poaching of tigers and rhinos, but quickly became involved in monitoring the trafficking of other wildlife species and their products. Today there are more than 400 units working throughout the country.

  2. 1993

    WWF-Nepal office is established in Kathmandu.

  3. Forest Act empowers the government to hand over forest areas to local communities for management as community forests.

    Restoring Degraded Forests in Royal Bardia National Park

    Rural communities play a huge role in protecting Nepal’s forests: about 18,000 community forest user groups have been established throughout the country since 1980.

  4. 1996

    Maoist insurgency begins. Much of the country’s conservation work is derailed as resources are redirected to the conflict.

  5. 1997

    The government of Nepal declares Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain ecosystem, as a special conservation area.

    Kangchenjunga means “the five treasures of snows.” The mountain landscape is home to more than 250 species of birds and animals, including snow leopards.


  1. 2001

    In the Terai Arc of the Eastern Himalayan lowlands, WWF spurs progress toward the ambitious goal of creating wildlife corridors linking 11 protected areas between India and Nepal.

    Bengal tiger
  2. 2006

    Maoist insurgency ends, and Nepal's rhino population is drastically lower than before the conflict.

  3. Following the historic handover of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area from the government to the local community, a helicopter carrying WWF staff members Dr. Chandra Gurung, Dr. Harka Gurung, Jennifer Headley, Yeshi Choden Lama, Matthew Preece, Dr. Jillian Bowling Schlaepfer and Mingma Sherpa, as well as other conservation leaders, crashes in Nepal, killing all 24 passengers on board.

    Sunset in Nepal


  1. 2011

    After years of antipoaching progress, Nepal reports 365 days of zero poaching.

    One-horned rhino
  2. 2012

    Nepal loses only one rhino to poaching.

    One-horned rhino
  3. Hariya Ban Program launched.

  4. 2013

    Nepal and India embark on the first-ever joint tiger survey covering the entire Terai landscape and using a common methodology.

    Terai Arc tiger camera traps
  5. WWF-Nepal celebrates 20 years.

    A Nepali child celebrating WWF-Nepal's 20th anniversary
  6. 2014

    Nepal celebrates another 365 days of zero poaching.

    ranger with rhino calves
  7. Nepal launches The Generation Green.

    Farmer schools offer techniques to adapt to climate change, such as drought-resistant crops and crop rotation.

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