It may seem incongruous in an age of ecological awakening but the Himalayan kingdom allows controlled hunting of some animal species. The days of the big game hunter are clearly over, there being a time when the royalty, British officers and other civil and military officials hunted the big game of the Terai to near extinction in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. The wildlife that can be hunted today include the ungulates of the upper regions, blue sheep and the Himalayan tahr.
Besides the national parks and wildlife reserves that are dealt with earlier in this booklet, there is a hunting reserve at Dhorpatan. The hunting reserve covers an area of 1.325 sq km spread over the southern flank of Mt.Dhaulagiri 1 (8,167m). The range is roughly falls within the three districts of Rukum, Baglung and Myagdi in Western Nepal.
The flora of the region is characteristic of the mixed zone -- lower altitude regions are characterized by mixed hardwood forest and many of the plant species that are adapted to the drier climate of the north. Tree species include fir, pine, rhododendron, juniper, birch, hemlock, oak and spruce. As with many other protected regions of Nepal, the reserve includes within its boundaries several villages - inhabited by hill tribes and peoples of Tibetan descent who supplement farming with nomadic pastorafism and trade.
Dhorpatan is located to the higher north at altitudes ranging from 2000-3500m. Some of the other parks at this altitude include the Khatpad National Park in the far-west and the Shivapuri wildlife sanctuary near Kathmandu. Dhorpatan is one of the prime habitats of the blue sheep, a highly prized game animal and the main target of hunters headed for the region. Other game species are the ghoral, serow, the himalayan tahr, black bear, pheasant and partridge. Endangered species here include the Chir pheasant and the red panda.
Controlled hunting is allowed here with a proper license and is restricted to certain times of the year. Game hunting licenses are issued by the department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Kathmandu. The office is located in Babar Mahal. There are also a few agencies that organize and make all arrangements for hunting expeditions. Local travel agents as well as the department of wildlife can put you through to these agencies.
Dhorpatan is not only a destination for the game hunter. It is also an attractive destination for the wildlife enthusiast and trekker, as protection has helped animal numbers increase in this remote and rarely visited region.
Dhorpatan is accessible from Pokhara, from where a five-day hike will get you there. For those that do not want to make the arduous trek, there is the option of flying to Dolpa, one of Nepal's dream landscapes - windswept, rolling and mystical. Charter flights by helicopter are also available for those on group expeditions. Special permits are required to trek to the region. Please inquire with your agency.
The best time to visit Dhorpatan is during the spring and autumn, Feb-April and Aug-October. Winters can get terribly cold in this region and access becomes difficult. Most accommodation here is in tented camps provided by the agencies or at one of the villages in the region. For those willing to rough it out, here is the chance for more than adventure.