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Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp

Nepal's Hidden Wildlife Reserve

Our Naturalist Guides & Staff

Badri Chaudhary

Badri was born in a small village right on the edge of Chitwan National Park. A quiet, gentle giant of a man, he is a proud Tharu – a member of the sole tribe or ethnic group to have inhabited the humid, malaria-ridden terai before the region was ‘made safe’ for habitation by the hill tribes in the 1960s through a programme of DDT eradication of the Anopheles mosquito. The lowland jungles of Nepal have always been his home, and in them he has developed quite extraordinary field skills – his sharp eyesight and birding skills being second to none. He began his working life, as others, working for a local wildlife tourist lodge in Chitwan; there he began to hone his natural interest in, and knowledge of, birds, ultimately becoming the expert he is today. Then, in 1993, he moved to Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, taking a job in a local wildlife lodge there before joining our own Koshi Camp in 1999 as manager. He has managed Koshi Camp ever since – this camp being our sister property which lies in rural eastern Nepal, adjacent to the wetlands and woodlands of the fabulous Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve of which his wildlife and birding knowledge is second to none. In recent years, however, Badri has split his time, managing Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp during busy times and guiding here as well. For many years he has also spent much time in all of Nepal’s bird-rich lowland areas, mist-netting and collecting data as part of a national grassland bird research programme. Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Asian Glossy Starling, Great Myna and both Ashy and Swinhoe’s Minivets are five new species for Nepal that Badri has found over the years. Badri is a founder, shareholder and director of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited and frequently guides both private clients and groups visiting ‘SWC’.

Dr Hem Sagar Baral (naturalist)

Hem was born in the small village of Prakashpur, on the very edge of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve in the lowlands of far eastern Nepal. He spent all of his childhood amongst the jungles and wetlands of the terai (Nepal’s lowlands), and developed an early interest in birds and wildlife there, so it was no surprise when, on leaving school, his enthusiasm and skills as an ornithologist earned him a position as a full-time naturalist guide at one of the leading wildlife lodges in Chitwan National Park. During his four years in this role, Hem impressed many visiting natural history and birding groups with his passion, knowledge and field skills as he led them on wildlife excursions through the park. In 1990 Hem left his job in Chitwan to complete a diploma in Geology at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan University and, whilst there, he was able to lead many Naturetrek groups of visiting wildlife enthusiasts in his holidays and spare time. In the years that followed, Hem went on to work as volunteer warden for the RSPB, for BirdLife International, IUCN-Nepal and several other organisations on specific conservation projects, and his three years spent studying the grassland birds of Suklaphanta National Park resulted in him becoming the first Nepalese citizen to gain a PhD in ornithology. During those years Hem discovered four bird species in the grasslands of Suklaphanta that had not previously been recorded in Nepal; they were Jerdon’s Babbler, Finn’s Weaver, Singing Lark and Moustached Warbler … one or two of which we might even be able to show you on your visit! Hem’s career developed quickly from that time. First he became CEO of Bird Conservation Nepal, then CEO of Himalayan Nature, before taking up his current role as the Zoological Society of London’s full-time representative in Nepal. He is a founder, shareholder and director of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited and regularly visits the national park in which he has spent so much time and knows so well, both when guiding small groups and when engaged in regular surveys of the park’s wintering population of the endangered Hodgson’s Bushchat. He is also the founder-editor of Danphe and Ibisbill – the two bird journals of Nepal.

Suchit Basnet (naturalist) 

Suchit was born in the eastern terai (lowlands) of Nepal and was educated at St Joseph's College in Darjeeling before completing his studies at college in Kalimpong, where he studied science. Then, in 1989, he began his long and successful career in wildlife tourism as a full-time naturalist in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park. During the five years he worked there he accumulated an invaluable knowledge of the fauna and flora of the forests and wetlands of Nepal’s lowlands. In 1994 he joined Naturetrek’s small Nepalese team of full-time expert naturalist/ornithologist guides and has spent every year since then guiding British, European and American birdwatching and wildlife groups throughout Nepal and India. It was with this team of Nepalese naturalists that Suchit was first involved in the establishment of Koshi Camp (in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve) in 1999 before, in 2008, the same team established Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp in 2008 to allow wildlife tourists, for the first time, to have a base from which to explore the remote and special habitats of Suklaphanta National Park. Suchit’s passion for wildlife and conservation, infectious enthusiasm, cheerful and friendly disposition, and exceptional fluency in English have made him one of the subcontinent’s most popular and sought-after naturalist guides. As one of Nepal’s foremost ornithologists, he was chairman of Nepal’s Rare Birds Committee for eight years, so makes a useful guide to have when it comes to the challenging task of identifying the many rare and elusive grassland bird species for which Suklaphanta provides such an important sanctuary. To date he has discovered five bird species new to Nepal – Grey-headed Bullfinch, Indian Shag, Jerdon’s Baza, Purple-backed Starling and Rufous-vented Prinia (the last four of which he found at Koshi!). Indeed, the Rufous-vented Prinia population that he found in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve proved to be a sub-species new to science - (Prinia burnesii nepalicola). Suchit is a founder, shareholder and director of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited and regularly guides groups there from his home in Kathmandu.

Hathan Choudhary (naturalist) 

Hathan was born in Nepal’s Chitwan Valley and benefitted only from the basic education afforded him in the local village school. Although he started work at one of the wildlife lodges in Chitwan National Park in 1988, it was not until 1990 that his great interest in birds and other natural history really began to flourish. A childhood spent in Chitwan’s jungles had equipped him with exceptional field skills and sharp eyes, and the birding and wildlife groups that he has escorted over the past 20 years or more have much appreciated the benefits that these have brought! Hathan remains a very active field ornithologist, naturalist and group leader to this day, and he also continues to enjoy leading wildlife treks in the foothills and high mountains of the Himalaya. Blessed, too, with a wealth of practical skills, it was Hathan that supervised the construction of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp in 2007/2008, and of Koshi Camp before that, in 1999. Sheer hard work has also given Hathan the (self-taught) fluency in English that is essential to any guide, and in his own quiet and thoughtful way he is always keen to share his exceptional knowledge of Nepal's birds and mammals. Hathan is a founder, shareholder and director of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited and regularly guides groups there from his home in Chitwan. Amongst his greatest discoveries were the first ever-recorded nest of the endemic Nepal Wren-babbler and Nepal’s first Black-tailed Crake.

Tika Ram Giri (naturalist)

Tika was born in the village of Sauraha, on the edge of Chitwan National Park. He received no formal education, and the degree to which he is self-taught is remarkable. His complete fluency in spoken English, and great knowledge of the birds and mammals of Nepal, derive from relentless hard work during his 10 years at one of Chitwan National Park’s top wildlife lodges which happened to be in Sauraha. Whilst there he rose from kitchen boy to senior naturalist. Then, in the early 1990s, he joined Naturetrek’s small Nepalese team of full-time expert naturalist/ornithologist guides and has spent every year since then guiding Naturetrek birdwatching and wildlife groups and treks throughout Nepal and India. It was with this team that Tika was involved in the establishment of Koshi Camp in 1999, the construction of which he managed. More recently Tika has returned to his roots in Sauraha, building a guesthouse which he and his family run there. He still regularly leads wildlife groups into Chitwan National Park and it is hardly surprising that no ornithologist can claim to know Chitwan better than Tika and no-one else has ever seen as many species there. Tika is a founder, shareholder and director of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited and still guides groups there from his home in Chitwan. He is a companionable and charismatic guide, always happy to provide an insight into his country’s culture and traditions, as well as its wildlife. The first ever Black-naped Oriole recorded in Nepal, at Koshi, was one of Tika’s numerous ornithological highlights.

Behind the Scenes

Badri Pudasaini (sales & logistics) 

Badri was born and raised in Kathmandu, where he still lives today with his wife and young son. He is the Office Manager of Nature Safari Tours, the Kathmandu-based general sales agent handling all local bookings for both Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp and Koshi Camp. Whether you book your stay at one or both of our wildlife camps though ‘NST’ in Nepal or through our British/European general sales agent (Naturetrek Ltd in the UK), Badri will be there to assist you in Kathmandu with any flights and transfers to Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp or Koshi Camp that you might need. He is our ‘Mr Fix-it’ – able to resolve any logistical issue or problem quickly, smoothly and with minimal fuss, such is his range of contacts and experience … and his exceptional organisational skills. He cut his teeth working in Chitwan National Park, where he worked for nine years, rising to become a manager of wildlife camps and lodges there … and his background across both country and city matters within Nepal is invaluable. Although, by his own admission, not a natural ‘birder’ or ‘naturalist’, Badri nonetheless takes a keen interest in the wildlife of Nepal and regularly visits both Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp and Koshi Camp to ensure our clients are being looked after to the best of our abilities in these remote rural regions. He is a founder, shareholder and director of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited.

David Mills (UK sales)

Although trained as a solicitor, David ultimately followed his love of travel, mountains and wildlife into the travel business. He first visited Nepal in 1981 and was enchanted by its magnificent scenery, delightful people and unrivalled wildlife … so much so that he remained there for much of the next two years, trekking endlessly through the country’s foothills and higher mountain regions in search of birds and other wildlife. Thereafter he returned regularly to Nepal several times each year, to lead trekking and wildlife groups, before founding Naturetrek in 1986, and later Wildlife Worldwide, with his wife Maryanne. It was on Naturetrek’s early wildlife treks and tours to Nepal, from 1988 onwards, that David got to know Hem Sagar Baral, Tika Ram Giri and others in our team, and he, Maryanne and Naturetrek have been working together with them ever since, all delighting in sharing their deep passion for Nepal and its wildlife with fellow birders visiting Nepal from overseas. Amongst David’s most exciting discoveries in Nepal have been finding the first Yellowhammers, Spanish Sparrows and Kessler’s Thrush for Nepal, all in 1981. Since then David has written articles and contributed to books on Nepal and its birds, and was involved in the establishment of the Nepal Birdwatching Club in the early 1980s (now Bird Conservation Nepal), the first of a number of natural history and conservation organisations that thrive in Nepal today; indeed the early NBC bulletins, ‘Danphe’, were sponsored by David and Maryanne. Both still visit Nepal as often as possible, and both are co-founders, shareholders and directors of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited.

Maryanne Mills (UK sales & sustainable tourism)

Maryanne is a zoologist, originally from Perth in Western Australia. Prior to her overseas travels she worked as an ecological consultant surveying the wildlife in some of the remote parts of Australia, including the Great Sandy Desert, Barrier Reef and central Australia. A keen walker, she has undertaken several extended backpacking expeditions through the wilderness regions of Tasmania and northern Australia, and was a member of the 1988 Royal Geographical Society's expedition to the remote Kimberley in north-western Australia where she studied the mammals. She first visited Nepal in 1985, where her experiences there began with an autumn trek in the Langtang Valley. Since then she has visited Nepal regularly with David, her English husband, after they founded together in Naturetrek in 1986, and later Wildlife Worldwide. She loves the tranquillity that both our wildlife camps provide, and the opportunities for painting, photography and village visits. Both Maryanne and David still visit Nepal as often as possible, and both are co-founders, shareholders and directors of Suklaphanta Wildlife Camp Private Limited.