NEORA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Neora Valley National Park is situated in the Kalimpong district, West Bengal, India and was established in 1986. It spreads over an area of 88 km² and is one of the richest biological zones in the entire Eastern India. It is the land of the elegant red panda in the pristine undisturbed natural habitat with rugged inaccessible hilly terrain and rich diverse flora and fauna making this park an important wilderness zone.
The park is spread over 159.89 km². The forest in Neora Valley has such luxurious growth that even sunlight finds it difficult to touch the ground. Much of the park is still inaccessible, making it an adventurous place for the nature lovers/trekkers who can take the challenge to explore the still-unknown terrain in the Kalimpong hills. Virgin natural forests, dense bamboo groves, colourful canopy of Rhododendron trees, lush green valley, meandering rivers and streams with snowcapped mountains in the backdrop form a picturesque landscape.
The park reaches up to an elevation of 10600 ft at Rachela , the highest point of Neora Valley National Park, which borders Sikkim and Bhutan. The Neora River is the major water source for Kalimpong town.
Neora Valley, one of the last tracts of virgin wilderness in the country, sustains a unique ecosystem where tropical, sub-tropical, sub-temperate, and temperate vegetative system still harbours a wealth of flora and fauna. The forests consists of mixed species like rhododendron, bamboo, oak, ferns, sal, etc. The valley also has numerous species of orchids.
Mammals reported from this area are Indian leopard, five species of civet, black bear, sloth bear, golden cat, wild boar, leopard cat, goral, serow, barking deer, sambar, Himalayan flying squirrel and thar. The most exotic of all is Red Panda. Among other endangered mammalian fauna, clouded leopards are seldom seen and likely to be present in the park.
Birds belonging to varied genus can be found in the park. Neora Valley National Park thus is known as birders\’ paradise; some of India\’s most sought-after birds are found here in winter months as well. The semi-evergreen forests between 1600 m and 2700 m is the home of several rarities like rufous-throated partridge, satyr tragopan, crimson-breasted woodpecker, Darjeeling woodpecker, bay woodpecker, golden-throated barbet, Hodgson\’s hawk cuckoo, lesser cuckoo, brown wood owl, ashy wood pigeon, mountain imperial pigeon, Jerdon\’s baza, black eagle, mountain hawk eagle, dark-throated thrush, rufous-gorgeted flycatcher, white-gorgeted flycatcher, white-browed bush robin, white-tailed robin, yellow-browed tit, striated bulbul, chestnut-headed tesia, chestnut-crowned warbler, black-faced warbler, black-faced laughingthrush, chestnut-crowned laughingthrush, streak-breasted scimitar babbler, scaly-breasted wren-babbler, pygmy wren-babbler, rufous-fronted babbler, black-headed shrike babbler, white-browed shrike babbler, rusty-fronted barwing, rufous-winged fulvetta, brown parrotbill, fire-breasted flowerpecker, fire-tailed sunbird, maroon-backed accentor, dark-breasted rosefinch, red-headed bullfinch, gold-naped finch and many other rarities.
Like that of birds and mammalian fauna, reptilian fauna also coexists in park\’s ecosystem; which includes King cobra, common krait, green pit viper, blind snake, lizards etc. It is a heaven for Entomologists as well; many colorful insects such as butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, bugs and cicadas are added attractions of the valley.