The SagarmÄthÄ National Park (sagaramÄthÄ rÄá¹£á¹riya nikuÃ±ja) is a protected area in the Himalayas of eastern Nepal that is dominated by Mount Everest. It encompasses an area of 1,148Â km2 (443Â sqÂ mi) in the Solukhumbu District and ranges in elevation from 2,845Â m (9,334Â ft) to 8,848Â m (29,029Â ft) at the summit of Mount Everest. In the north, it shares the international border with the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve of Tibet and extends to the Dudh Kosi river in the south. Adjacent to the east is the Makalu Barun National Park.
SagarmÄthÄ is a Nepali word derived from à¤¸à¤à¤°à¥ sagar meaning "sky" and à¤®à¤¾à¤¥à¤¾ mÄthÄ meaning "head".
The protected area has been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and is included in the Sacred Himalayan Landscape.
The Sagarmatha National Park was established in 1976. In 1979, it became the country's first national park that was inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site. In January 2002, a Buffer Zone comprising 275Â km2 (106Â sqÂ mi) was added. Under the Buffer Zone Management Guidelines the conservation of forests, wildlife and cultural resources received top priority, followed by conservation of other natural resources and development of alternative energy.
Tourism to the area began in the early 1960s. In 2003, about 19,000 tourists arrived. About 3500 Sherpa people live in villages and seasonal settlements situated along the main tourist trails. The park's visitor centre is located at the top of a hill in Namche Bazaar, where a company of the Nepalese Army is stationed for protection of the park. The park's southern entrance is a few hundred metres north of Monzo at 2,835Â m (9,301Â ft), a one day trek from Lukla.
Most of the park area is very rugged and steep, and the terrain cut by deep rivers and glaciers. The park contains the upper watershed of the Dudh Kosi river basin and the Gokyo Lakes. Barren land above 5,000Â m (16,000Â ft) comprises 69% of the park while 28% is grazing land and the remaining 3% is forested. Climatic zones include a forested temperate zone, a subalpine zone above 3,000Â m (9,800Â ft), and an alpine zone above 4,000Â m (13,000Â ft) that constitutes the upper limit of vegetation growth. The nival zone starts at 5,000Â m (16,000Â ft).
In the lower forested zone, birch, juniper, blue pines, firs, bamboo and rhododendron grow. Above this zone the vegetation is dwarf-sized or comprises shrubs. As the altitude increases, plant life is restricted to lichens and mosses. Plants cease to grow at about 5,750Â m (18,860Â ft), because this is the permanent snow line in the Himalayas.
Forests of pine and hemlock cover the lower elevations of the national park. At elevations of around 3,500Â m (11,500Â ft) and above, forests of silver fir, birch, rhododendron and juniper trees are found.
The forests provide habitat to at least 118 species of birds, including Himalayan Monal, Blood pheasant, Red-billed chough, and yellow-billed chough. SagarmÄthÄ National Park is also home to a number of rare mammal species, including musk deer, snow leopard, Himalayan black bear and red panda. Himalayan thars, langur monkeys, martens and Himalayan wolves are also found in the park.
The temperature and available oxygen decrease with altitude. Therefore, the animals that are found here are adapted to living on less oxygen and cold temperatures. They have thick coats to retain body heat. Some of them have shortened limbs to prevent loss of body heat. The Himalayan bears go into hibernation in caves during the winter when there is no food available.
- Jefferies, M. (1991). Mount Everest National Park Sagarmatha Mother of the Universe. Seattle, WA, USA: The Mountaineers: 192 pp.
- Information of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal
- Official UNESCO website entry
- The World at Night: Everest and Mysterious Star