Himalayan Monal: National Bird of Nepal

© iStock.com/Jason Ondreicka

Written by Cindy Rasmussen

Published: December 29, 2022

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The country of Nepal lies between the northeast edge of India and southwestern Tibet (an autonomous region of China). The northeastern border of Nepal is along the Himalayan Mountains, which is home to the infamous Mount Everest. The varied habitats of Nepal support thousands of different animal species, including some unique birds. Nepal has black and white storks, sarus cranes, satyr trapogons, and great hornbills. But are any of these spectacular birds the national bird of Nepal? Maybe the beautiful pink flamingo represents the country. Read on to find out all about the national bird of Nepal.

What is the National Bird of Nepal?

The males have iridescent feathers with brilliant blue wings.

©iStock.com/Michel VIARD

The national bird of Nepal is the Himalayan Monal. One look at this colorful bird and you will understand why residents chose it to represent their country. The males have iridescent feathers with brilliant blue wings. Their heads are turquoise and feature a row of feathers that stick up like a mohawk. A blue patch circles each black eye. The colors along their neck are radiant, with red fading to orange and yellow before blending into green. Blue wings lead down to bright orange tail feathers.

Himalayan Monals are pheasants that can grow to about 28 inches long and weigh around five pounds. The females lack the flashy colors of the males and are instead a mix of dark brown and light brown, with a white strip under their beaks.

Where do Himalayan Monals Live?

As their name suggests, these birds live along the Himalayans in open grassy areas and at higher altitudes. During the winter they use coniferous forests for shelter, but they are adapted to living in snowy conditions. There range is from eastern Afghanistan to western China and Tibet.

Are Himalayan Monals an Endangered Species?

The Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) was assessed by the IUCN in October of 2016 and was determined to be a species of “Least Concern” meaning they have a globally stable population. Himalayan Monals have a large range and their numbers do not appear to be dwindling. There are no immediate threats toward the overall population of these birds.

Is the Himalayan Monal Featured on the Nepal Currency?

The currency in Nepal is the rupee and includes coins and banknotes. The reverse side of the banknotes features many of the animals that live in Nepal. However, the Himalayan Monal is not one of these featured animals. Animals that are on the back of the Nepal currency include:

  • Yaks
  • Black bucks
  • Antelope
  • Swamp deer
  • Sambar deer
  • Male thar
  • Snow leopards
  • One-horned rhinoceros
  • Tigers
  • Elephants (Twin Asian Elephants)

Were Twin Elephants Born in Nepal?

An Asian Elephant and baby at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Baby Asian elephants can weigh anywhere from 150-350 pounds at birth!

©SuperJew, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

Yes! Elephant twins are extremely rare but in the Chitwan National Park in Nepal twin Asian elephants, named Ram and Lacksham, were born in 2008. Baby Asian elephants can weigh anywhere from 150-350 pounds at birth, which is why twinning is a rare occurrence. Beside the toll of carrying twins, it is difficult for the mother to produce enough milk to sustain two enormous growing babies. The newest 1,000-rupee note features an image of the famous twin Asian elephants.

What is the National Animal of Nepal?

Cow looking directly at camera

In Nepal, cows are sacred animals, and they roam free in the streets.

©Gatien GREGORI/Shutterstock.com

The national animal of Nepal is the cow. Cows in Nepal are not raised for beef, but they are used for their milk and dairy products. Cows are sacred animals, and they roam free in the streets. That is, they may roam, lie down, or otherwise make themselves comfortable wherever they please, even in the middle of a busy market!

What Other Animals Live in Nepal?

With so many diverse habitats, Nepal has hundreds of unique species of animals. Here are some of the animals that live in Nepal:

  • Bengal Tiger: There are five protected areas in Nepal that house Bengal tigers. These large wildcats can weigh around 480 pounds as adults and can be 9 feet long! The tiger is an endangered animal due to poaching and illegal trade according to the IUCN. Habitat loss has also been an issue due to human settlements.
  • South Asian River Dolphin: Another endangered animal is the south Asian river dolphin. These long-snouted freshwater dolphins live in the Ganges River in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. There are also river dolphins in the Indus River in Pakistan. In Nepal, these dolphins are called Sus and Swongsu.

What other Interesting Animals Live in Nepal?

  • Asiatic Rock Python (Python molurus): These pythons are cream colored or yellowish with dark brown squares and rectangle blotches. Can you belive these snakes can reach lengths of 20 feet or more? And they are not thin snakes. These thick reptiles can reach nearly 200 pounds! Luckily, Asiatic rock pythons are not venomous.
  • Red panda: Red pandas look like a cross between a red fox and a raccoon and inhabit several of the national parks in Nepal. Just like giant pandas, their diet consists mainly of bamboo. Half of the red pandas live in the eastern Himalayans.  
  • Yak: While yaks are not the national animal of Nepal, these large hairy cow-like animals play an important role in their culture. For the mountain dwelling Nepali, the yaks are an important part of their trade with Tibet. These large animals are adept at traveling along the mountain trails and can carry 200 pounds of goods. The Nepali also use them to produce milk and dairy products, and they also use their hides, fur, and dung (for fuel).

Do Any Animals Live on Mount Everest?

There are very few animals that live on Mount Everest. A variety of creatures can survive below 20,000 feet, but above 20,000 feet there are only a few documented animals. Three animals that live at great heights on Mount Everest include:

  • Himalayan jumping spiders: These are small spiders, only 4-5 mm in size.
  • Yellow-bellied coughs: These crow-like birds have been spotted at 26,500 feet.
  • Bar-headed geese: These birds migrate over Everest from Tibet to the marshes of India.

Lower elevations on Mount Everest are home to more than 100 bird species that live or migrate through Sagarmatha National Park. You can also find Himalayan thars (large wild goats), red pandas, black bears, musk deer, wolves, and snow leopards. The park is also home to the Himalayan Monal, which the Nepali named the Danfe. Be sure to be camera ready when hiking through the park, as it would be an honor to catch a photo of the beautiful national bird of Nepal.

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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