Bardia National Park is situated in the mid far western Terai, east of the Karnali River, Nepal. The park is the largest and most undisturbed wilderness area in the Terai. About 70% of the park is covered with forest with the balance a mixture of grassland, savannah and riverine forest.
Bardia was a royal hunting reserve of Nepal's Rana rulers from 1846 to 1950. In Nepal, wildlife lost whatever protection the royal hunting reserve conveyed when the Rana rule ended in the 1950s. A well-meaning malaria eradication program in the 1950s and 1960s opened the terai for settlement, and transformed about 75% of the native Terai to agricultural land. Wildlife populations declined with the combination of increased settlement and widespread poaching. Bardia was declared a wildlife reserve in 1976, first measuring 134 square miles (347 km²) and expanded in 1985 to 374 square miles (968 km²), it became a National Park in 1988. The approximately 1500 people who used to live in this valley have been resettled elsewhere. Since farming has ceased in the Babai Valley, natural vegetation is regenerating, making it an area of prime habitat for wildlife.
The park provides excellent habitat for endangered animals like the rhinoceros, wild elephant, tiger, swamp deer, black buck, gharial crocodile, marsh mugger crocodile and Gangetic dolphin. Endangered birds include the Bengal florican, lesser florican, silver-eared mesia and Sarus crane. More than 30 different mammals, over 200 species of birds, and many snakes, lizards and fish have been recorded in the park's forest, grassland and river habitats. A good number of resident and migratory birds are found in the park. It is also the home of one of the last known herds of wild elephants.