The grandeur of the North-East – Kaziranga National Park

During my High School days, my maternal uncle presented a book titled “Born Free” by Joy Adamson. It is the story of Elsa the lioness (c. January 1956 to January 24, 1961) who was raised by game warden, George Adamson and his wife Joy Adamson in a small township around Isiolo in Kenya which was full of wild life of every description. During one of the safaris, it was reported to George that a tribesman was killed by a man-eating lion, accompanied by two lionesses. The pride was living in nearby hills and in the process of tracking them down, George was charged by a lioness and in self-defense, he reluctantly killed her. Later on it became apparent that being a protective mother she was defending her three cubs. The orphaned cubs, Elsa and her two sisters, “Big One” and “Lustica”, who were a few weeks old came to the care of Adamsons. With the help of milk feeding bottles, cod liver oil, glucose, bone meal diet, the cubs started gaining strength and after twelve weeks they had teeth big enough to eat meat and were becoming stronger by the day.

With the passage of time, finding it difficult to handle the three big cats, Adamsons decided to send the “Big one” and Lustica to Rotterdam Zoo in Netherlands, while Elsa herself remained with them and lived in many ways like a domesticated pet when she was small. Joy Adamson, however, was fiercely determined to give Elsa the education she needed to hunt and live in the wild; the life she was made for and save her from the captive existence. Her efforts paid off and she was released into the wild, following her and George’s strenuous efforts to train her to survive on her own.

Mystic are the ways of nature, at times impossible to understand. Though Elsa was now living on her own and found a mate in a big wild lion, she occasionally visited Joy and showed all the affection even hugging her, just like a married daughter would do on visit to mother’s house.

On one of her visits, Joy observed that Elsa was pregnant and soon she delivered three cubs. Being a protective mother, Elsa concealed the cubs from Joy for six weeks and one day came along with the cubs to Joy’s camp. Many people had warned Joy that after Elsa’s cubs had been born she would probably turn into a fierce and dangerous mother defending her cubs, yet Elsa was trusting and affectionate as ever, wanting Joy to share her happiness. Over the period, after small inhibitions, the cubs started accepting Joy’s grandmotherly love and would often come to the camp.

Unfortunately, Elsa contacted Babesia fellis, a tick borne blood disease, somewhat similar to malaria, which often infects the members of the cat family and is a sort of menace in the African Jungles. Joy started giving her medical aid and tend the infectious wounds. Meanwhile George received an order from the African District Council for the removal of Elsa and her cubs from the reserve as Elsa was used to their company and might become a danger to other people.

Joy was fighting on two fronts – the deportation order and Elsa’s worsening health. Despite Joy’s best efforts the wounds caused by the ailment were not healing, as Elsa would go to the bush and not come back for many days. Ultimately Elsa became very sick and died in the lap of Joy on 24th January, 1961. Deeply shocked by her premature demise, Adamsons buried her in the Meru National Park.

Joy and George became cubs’ guardians, pending their relocation as per the deportation order. However, Elsa’s death made her cubs much more averse to human contact, even with the Adamsons themselves. This complicated their efforts to locate a safe place for them, their capture and ultimate transport and release in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. We do not know much about the fate of the cubs but do hope that Elsa’s descendants would continue to live on in the jungles of East Africa.

Joy holding some meat while Elsa chews on it.

Joy holding some meat while Elsa chews on it.


Courtesy – http://www.fatheroflions.org/Elsa.html

Elsa’s touching story was my first serious introduction to wildlife, its psychology and way of life. Jim Corbett’s “Man eaters of Kumaon” created still more interest in the wildlife and after my first visit to Corbett National Park, I was virtually struck to the Kumaon region.

Spicejet Bombshell
Early this year, Spicejet came out with a plan to sell 50,000 tickets on throw away prices. Nandan, whom you all know, hardly misses such opportunities and quietly booked 8 tickets for the family. When he told me that the itinerary for the North-east tour included a two days stay at Kaziranga National Park, I was thrilled and expressed my child like excitement.

The Journey
I have written about the first leg of the journey in my previous post on Meghalaya.

On the windy morning of February 26, our 260 kms journey from Shillong to Kaziranga started with a note of excitement, though I was a little sad to leave the picturesque Meghalaya. We took NH 40, had our breakfast at a Dhaba in Nongpoh, drove up to Jorabat and then turned towards NH 37, which leads to Kaziranga National Park.


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The journey on the NH37 until Nagaon was uneventful. From Nagaon onwards the area on both sides of the road was fully covered with lush green tea plantations sprawling for miles. Contrary to my belief that tea is grown on the higher altitudes like Darjeeling and Nilgiris, in Assam, tea is generally produced in the low lying areas. I believe Assam produces more than half of the tea produced in India. We were not aware that we were passing through an area heading towards Jorhat which is called the “Tea capital of the world”.

Stunned by the beauty of plantations, we stopped at one of the tea estates to get a glimpse of life in tea gardens. We saw workers watering the plants and picking tea leaves and putting in the huge baskets they were carrying on their backs. Walking through the tea gardens was a great experience. It was around 2 p.m. and we were feeling hungry. The cab driver stopped at a restaurant, just 2 or 3 kms short of Kohora (another name for Kaziranga) and we had a sumptuous meal of rice and daal and fish curry. I do not remember the name of the restaurant, but distinctly recall that the owner of the place had a plant for bottling of filtered drinking water, which was distributing their produce in the nearby areas.

We didn’t have much of difficulty in locating the resort “Nature Hunt Eco Camp”, which is at a distance of around 4 kms from Kohora. Since we had to walk a few paces to reach the property which is located on a small hillock, the resort staff helped us with the luggage.

The camp has 8 cottages including a large cottage. All these cottages made of bamboo, thatch and wood have been raised on stilts around 4 ft. above the ground. On the first night, we were given the large cottage with around 10 beds (almost like a dormitory). Since the beds were laid on the floor, I and my wife who suffer from osteoarthritis looked at each other but being too tired after a long journey preferred to ignore this and settled down. The piping hot tea and cookies helped us in stabilizing our nerves.

Our Dormitory on the first night

Our Dormitory on the first night

The manager of the resort, Avik a young man in late twenties met us at around 6 p.m. and told that he has firmed up the arrangements for Maruti Gypsy, which would take us for a safari from the East Point of the park. Avik is been into this business for a while and if I remember correctly, he was managing one of their other resorts. A hard working fella, Avik arranged for everything we requested for.

The resort has a policy of not serving any eatables in the cottages. Hence the family assembled in the “Minivet Pelican” dining hall, which is open from all the sides and is located in front of the cottages and amidst the tea plantations. A couple of drinks followed by a dish of butter chicken and yellow daal, gave us adequate impetus to have a good sleep.

The Gypsy reported at 7.00 in the morning and after a quick breakfast we headed for the park. I being the oldest was given the seat next to the driver, while others accommodated themselves in the open rear portion. The driver introduced himself as Arun Deb. He did his high school education at Jorhat and after doing some odd jobs, bought a second hand Maruti Gypsy and came to Kaziranga. During the six years driving in the park, he probably knew all the better viewing points.

We reached the Park Administrative Centre in Kohora, which has three tourist routes under its jurisdiction – Kohora, Bagoti and Agaratoli. The park area is divided into four ranges. The four ranges are the Burapahar, Baguri, Central, and Eastern. They are headquartered at Ghorakati, Baguri, Kohora, and Agoratoli, respectively. The Park is open from November 1 to May 15. Only light vehicles are allowed on the park roads. You can book the Gypsy or take your own vehicle too, which needs to be accompanied by a representative of the forest department. At the gate one has to register and obtain an entry permit.
Kaziranga National Park

Getting ready for first Safari

Getting ready for first Safari

Assam’s magnificent Kaziranga National Park beautifully located on the banks of River Brahamputra, is spread over an area of 430 sq. kms (166 sq. miles). Park’s landscape is characterized by vast grasslands and swamps, dotted with patches of semi-evergreen forest. Kaziranga which became a ‘game sanctuary’ in 1916, and a national park in 1974 and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is the home of the rare great Indian one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). Once widely distributed across the northern floodplains of the subcontinent, the rhino has been consistently killed to make way for the tea plantations and villages to the extent that this endangered species became close to extinction in the beginning of the 20th century. Thanks to the successful conservation measures, their number has risen to around 2500 (across Assam and the foothills of Nepal).
(Reference: Eye Witness Travel Guide – India)

Tour of the park
Merely after a five minutes’ drive inside the park, we spotted a couple of elephants, which we thought were the wild elephants found in the park. Arun told us to ignore them as these were domesticated animals used for safari. It would be pertinent to add here that for a closer view of the animals and birds you can hire elephant ride, though it is very expensive.

Gypsy Ride

Gypsy Ride

All the details

All the details

The experienced Arun was driving the Gypsy at around 10 kms an hour to enable us to have a feel of the passages passing through the tall and vibrant grasslands of the National Park, which is home not only to the two-thirds of the world’s population of the one horned rhinoceros but also home to many other incredible species of mammals, birds and reptiles. The park contains significant stock of the Asian Elephants, Asiatic Water Buffalo and the swamp Deer. Kaziranga has Also the highest density of tiger in the world and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006.

The birds have woken up. Arun stopped the Gypsy suddenly having spotted a huge rhino at a distance. While Nandan was busy taking pictures, Arun told me few startling facts about the rhinos. The greater one-horned rhinoceros found in the Kaziranga National Park is the largest of the three Asian rhinos – and, together with African white rhinos, the largest of all rhino species. The rhinos of this region are normally gray brown; pinkish at the skin folds. It has a single black horn about 20-60 cm long and a grey-brown hide with skin folds, which give it an armor-plated appearance. The rhinos normally weigh between 1800-2700 kgs.

The greater one-horned rhino is primarily a grazer. The rhinoceros normally eat about 150 kgs in a day and their diet consists almost entirely of grasses, but they also eat leaves, branches of shrubs, little boughs and bark of trees, fruit and aquatic plants. By its curved horn, the rhino burrows the ground, thus finding roots and bulbs, which vary its food. Its upper lip has a bump, allowing the animal to catch even the young buds on the trees. It goes out for food in the night, and in daytime it rests. Rhinos are solitary, except when sub-adults or adult males gather at wallows or to graze. Unlike lions and tigers, the rhinos have loosely defined territories, which are not well defended and often overlap.

Further up, Arun slowed down again. A rhino was trying to climb a muddy steep. He made an unsuccessful attempt but succeeded in the second and stood right in front of the Gypsy. It was so close that I was almost tempted to touch it. Arun told me that it was better to maintain a respectful distance from the animal, as rhinos are very sensitive and vulnerable and could attack. The rhino walked a few paces, crossed the road and vanished into the bush. It was a great moment for all of us – paisa vasool.

King of Kaziranga

King of Kaziranga

From Up and Close

From Up and Close

Awe-struck by the beauty of this giant, I couldn’t help asking Arun about the slow rate of growth of population of the greater one-horned rhinos. I had read somewhere that there were around 600 rhinos in India and Nepal in 1975 and even after the turn of century, their number grew to around 2500 only. Arun gave two reasons for this. Firstly, they have a naturally slow population growth, as the females are sexually mature at 5-7 years, while males mature at about 10 years of age. Although breeding occurs throughout the year, the single offspring remains with the mother until the birth of the next calf and there is an interval of 2-3 years. The gestation period is 15-16 months. Second, is the more alarming – the vulnerability to illegal poaching. There is an ever present market for the rhino products, especially the horn, a prized ingredient in Chinese medicine and is primarily used for the treatment of a variety of ailments ranging from epilepsy, fevers, strokes and cancer. The horn is actually a mass of closely matted hair and each rhino horn fetches an exorbitant price in South-east Asia, where it is believed to have great medicinal and aphrodisiac properties.

When asked about the modus operandi of poachers despite the presence of numerous armed forest keepers, Arun was of the opinion that firstly it is not practical to man every inch of the forest and secondly, the poachers hide themselves in the bush near the places where the animals come to drink water in the night. These days they use silencer guns (sometimes AK 47), kill the rhino, saw the horn and vanish within minutes. Arun told me that to counter the menace of poaching, lately the park has developed a very good network of intelligence throughout the villages surrounding the park. There are key informants in every village, which report about the movement of poachers and are monetarily compensated for information they provide to the park authorities I thought that, if it were not threatened by the poachers, wild life would be ideal, for even the fierce animals are less dangerous to rhinos than these men.

Arun then drove us to the highest viewing point in the park At Sohola – a double storey platform, right on the banks of river Brahamputra. This spot seems to be popular with the tourists, as many of them were already there. We got down from the Gypsy, stretched ourselves and walked towards the river bank. The river was flowing in its full bloom and the current was unbelievably fast.

At Brahamputra Vantage point

At Brahamputra Vantage point

River Brahamputra, incidentally, is the only river with a male name (all the other Indian rivers and tributaries have female names – Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswati, Narmada, etc). In Sanskrit, Brahamputra means “son of Brahma”. It is probably because of the vastness and mightiness that it is a male amongst other female rivers.
View from the top of the platform is simply awe inspiring. Far beyond the gigantic vastness of Brahamputra, you can see thick forests.

There is a small shop near the viewing point that sells potato chips, bottled aerated drinks and some other things of tourist interest. At a distance we could spot a large number of Bengal Floricon – the rare bird which has beautifully streaked plumage.

Further up we spotted a few more rhinos. The park is a paradise for bird watchers. The best way to see over 300 species of birds is to go on an elephant safari. Arun told me that with a bit of effort and patience one could spot several rare species of birds including geese, ducks, kingfishers, herons, Dalmatian pelicans, migratory storks and cranes. Kaziranga hosts a large number of raptors too, including Easter Imperial Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle and many species of vultures. Rare game birds including partridges, Bengal Floricons and capped pigeons also inhibit the park.

Many rare varieties of reptiles are also found in Kaziranga. Two of the largest snakes in the world, the Reticulated Python and Rock Python, as well as the longest venomous snake in the world, the King Cobra, inhabit the park. Other snakes found here include the Indian Cobra, Russell’s Viper, and the Common Krait. Monitor lizards including the Bengal monitor and the Water Monitor are also found here.

The park has a large variety of Langurs and the only ape found in India — The Hoolock Gibbon. Kaziranga’s rivers are home to the highly endangered Ganges Dolphin.

It was nearing lunch time and we decided to go back to Kohora for a good lunch. There is one good restaurant close to the SBI ATM and we had a hearty lunch of rice and fish curry. Arun dropped us back at the camp, where we were shifted to the twin sharing warm cottages with clean western style bathrooms. It was a big relief.

Afternoon Safari
We rested for a while and readied ourselves for the afternoon safari from the Central Point. This time the formalities were a little less time consuming as we had already registered in the morning. There is a small museum in the precincts of the park. While Aditya was doing the registration formalities, Pihu, our granddaughter enjoyed the dummy rhino ride.

Souvenir for Sale - Near Administrative block

Souvenir for Sale – Near Administrative block

This route is thickly populated with Asiatic Wild Buffalo. Kaziranga has India’s largest population of this mammoth – horned buffalo which likes to wallow in the park’s swamps. As per the last count taken in 2012 there were around 1400 Wild buffaloes in the park. I believe, they are also important to the grassland ecosystem as they help in plant rejuvenation.

Bison - Enjoying its time

Bison – Enjoying its time

Wild Buffalos are an endangered species and a favorite prey for tigers. Wild water buffalos are larger and heavier than domestic buffalo, and weigh up to 1,200 kg. Both sexes carry horns that are heavy at the base and widely spreading up to 2 m (79 in) along the outer edges, exceeding in size the horns of any other living bovid. Their skin color is normally ash gray to black

Crossbreeding with domestic buffalo is considered major threat to the wild buffalo’s survival in the range.

Lots of Hog Deer were flocking around. These animals closely resemble the spotted deer (chital) and are found in plenty in the park’s riverine grasslands. The park is also home to Sloth Bears, Jungle Cat, Fishing Cat and Leopard Cat. Other small mammals include the rare Hispid Hare, Gray Mongoose, Bengal Fox, Golden Jackal and bats.

Vegetation of Kaziranga National Park
Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water.
Four main types of vegetation exist in the park. These are alluvial inundated grasslands, alluvial savanna woodlands, tropical moist mixed deciduous forests, and tropical semi-evergreen forests.
Common tall grasses are sugarcanes, spear grass, elephant grass, and the common reed. Numerous forbs are present along with the grasses. Amidst the grasses, providing cover and shade are scattered trees including Indian gooseberry, the cotton trees and elephant apple.

Forest

Forest

At around 4 p.m. the Gypsy driver stopped near a large bheel (shallow lake). Large scale floods in Assam inundate the park every monsoon and leave behind bheels and marshes as they recede. These attract herds of wild elephants and water birds.
I was a little tired and didn’t mind stretching on the patchy grass at the bank of the water body. Suddenly I saw a herd of elephants on the other side of the swamp merging in large numbers which included a couple of little calves. Lead by a female elephant, they had assembled there to drink water. I believe that an elephant drinks around 20 litres of water at a time, perhaps to mitigate the possibility of non- availability of water during their migration. Like rhinos, they also eat around 150-200 kgs of grasses, branches of shrubs, little boughs and bark of trees, fruit and aquatic plants.

Elephants are wonderful things. When you are nine feet tall and weigh around three tons – you can’t be anything less than wonderful. Elephants move easily through mossy undergrowth, where creepers and stranglers grow like sheets, through grooves of oxi trees with great dark leaves, across grassland, along dry riverbeds, over steep inclines.
Further up, we stopped on the bank of a rivulet and were awe struck by the presence of hundreds of turtles – both on the shore as well on the small island inside the river. I had never seen so many turtles in my life. They were crawling here, there and everywhere. In the picture below you can see a turtle climbing the branch of a tree.

Turtles - There were many of those sun bathing

Turtles – There were many of those sun bathing

Close by, an Assamese guide was telling a group of foreigners that In all, Kaziranga is home to 15 species of turtles, including the endemic Assam Roofed Turtle, and to one species of tortoise — the Brown Tortoise. In addition to the turtles, around 42 species of fishes are found in this part of Kaziranga area. We were now on the way to the “Tiger Reserve”.

It would be interesting to note that Kaziranga with one tiger for each five km of park area has the highest tiger density in the world. Kaziranga is one of the very few places in the world which contain breeding populations of three big cats outside Africa— the Royal Bengal Tiger, The Indian Leopard and the Clouded Leopard. Kaziranga has a population of around 90 Bengal Tigers. Kaziranga has a large population of The Eastern Swamp Deer, believed to be slowly diminishing, which may be a reflection of the increasing tiger population in the reserve. The park also has a sizable numbers of Sambar, Hog Deer, the Barking Deer and wild boars. Wild boar and Deer are a main food source for tigers in the regions where they coexist. Tigers typically follow boar and deer groups, and pick them off one by one.A herd of wild water buffalos melt into the elephant grass. Hog deer bounce away from the Gypsy. All seems well in the world.

At a distance, we heard the agitated barking of baboons. This was followed by a loud whooping hoots of gibbons. As per the driver this commotion suggested presence of a tiger nearby. He stopped the vehicle and asked us to maintain pin drop silence. Couple of Gypsys already parked in front of us probably endorsed his view. We stood on the edge of our seats expecting the sighting of a tiger. The barking of baboons and hooting of the gibbons continued. At once a little jackal appeared that up till must have been hiding in the grass; he lost no time in taking his chance and began to run as fast as he could and vanish in the bush.

Elephant giving a hoot

Elephant giving a hoot

We waited for some more time and lost our patience. We do not know if it was a false alarm or the tiger had slipped away somewhere in the tall elephant grasslands. The sun was sinking, and its warm light reflected on the shiny fronds of the large trees, tinting their tops with a golden glow. It was perhaps a signal for us to call it a day and head for Kohora, where we planned to visit a large store run by a tea plantation company (we had spotted it earlier in the day) to exhibit and sell its products. While my wife and daughters were busy in tasting and selecting some good tea packets for taking home, I was busy in seeing the catalogues and the pictures on the wall, one of which was that of a large bungalow located in one of the tea gardens. The manager of the store told me that often some of the tea estates take the tourists for a tour of their estates and some these have turned their bungalows into rest houses for overnight stay. Some of the bungalows he suggested were Thengal Manor, Burra Sahib Bungalow situated in the Sangsua Tea estate and Banyan Bungalow located in the most attractive part of the Gatoonga Tea Estate, the Banyan Grove is about hundred years old bungalow. All these bungalows are in Jorhat, which is around 60 kms from Kohora and can be booked in advance.

The very mention of Tea Garden Bungalows brought back the boyhood memories of a masterpiece by one of the greatest Film Directors, Satyajit Ray – a film titled Kapurush Mahapurush. It would be worth investing an hour to see the film at Youtube.

I thanked the store manager profusely for the refreshing cup of tea and all the information, which I would certainly use during my next visit to the North East.

Kingsberg. Reminds you of any other popular brands ?

Kingsberg. Reminds you of any other popular brands ?

We came back to the resort at around 7.30 p.m. After a well spent productive day at the Park and having learnt a lot about some of the rare species of animals and birds, we indeed deserved to celebrate the day with large shots of our favorite drinks. We also had to take care that we do not over-indulge, as we had to leave early next morning for Majuli, the largest river island of the world formed by the meeting of two channels of River Brahamputra—the northern Kherkutia channel and the southern Brahmaputra channel, about which I would elaborate in details in the next part of the story.

Till then have a great festive season and may God be with you and your families.
P.s. We had gone on this fabulous trip during the last week of February. Recently, I read somewhere that a rhino was killed in Kaziranga by poachers on October 23. Poachers appear to have used AK 47 guns. Confronted by the alert forest staff they left the sawed horn and eloped into the thick forests. This was shockingly the 35th killing of rhinos in Kaziranga during this year.

References:
Wikipedia, Eye Witness Travel Guide – India

12 Comments

  • Virag Sharma says:

    Saw movie Nice Born Free :)
    Good travel log …. Mar-2014 , am planing to go there , hence this info really helpful.

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Thanks for liking the post. Do go to the North-East. It’s the most beautiful part of te country, full of culture and values.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Very well detailed and explained Ram. Made me remember the great safari ride we had. Thank you for taking time and effort to preserve this.

    Wishes and look forward to Majoli.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks Nandan. I am trying to do justice with the write up on Majuli, a draft of which will be sent to you shortly.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Dear Ram Sir,
    As usual, your log is as matured as you. Excellent piece of learning narration skill! Sir, I have visited the NE a few many times during the late Ninety’s but alas! the pics taken with roll cameras are missing. Just recalled my tours in NE viz. Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Nepal, Bhutan. We had a team of 6-7 boys those days who saved money for the trips and were on trains once in every 6 months. Our budgets were so low sometimes that we even slept in Railway Stations or Bus Stands to escape a night charge in hotels. We have also trekked a lot in the NE from Sandakfu in Darjeeling to Annapurna Base Camps in Nepal. Besides, trekking Rupkund, Hemkund Sahib and a few more. Recently tried hand in writing few logs in this site after following it for long. May I request you to see few of my logs if time permits you and suggest something to excel my narration skill. I will be highly indebted.

    Regards
    Ajay

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Thanks for liking the post and your kind words. Indeed, the North-East is the most beautiful part of the country and you are lucky to have spent some very productive time there.

      I would love to peruse your posts and apprise you of my views.

      Take care and God bless you.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Ram Sir,

    I had heard about Born Free and after your amazing introduction, will try to get hold of it.

    The post takes us from the mystic alleys to wildlife trails effortlessly. Enjoyed the wonderful account of Kaziranga we all wish could visit but the post makes the World Heritage Site come alive.

    How do you manage to remember names of people you encounter? I have to go back to google to help me recall the names of places?

    I never thought of Brahmputra as a male name amazing observation!

    The up and close photo of the rhino is the rhino missing top portion of his horn? Today before I read the post, while surfing the net came across the news of the rhino being killed. Imagine 35 rhinos being gunned down in an Unesco site this year.

    Keep writing!

    • Ram Dhall says:

      Dear Nirdesh,

      I have been waiting for your views on the post and am glad that it is to your satisfaction.

      I still possess the book “Bornfree” and would be happy to share it with you. It’s a hard bound edition with lots of pitures, though on account of extensive usage over the past five decades, it is showing some signs of ageing.

      Your observation about the missing portion of the horn is absolutely correct. I asked the same question to Arun (our driver -cum- guide). He told me that though rhinos have no natural predators (even tigers and elephants normally do not attack them), sometimes the herd of buffaloes, just out of fear and in self defence, come face to face with the rhinos, but the rhinos’ sharp horns are good enough to tear their bellies apart in minutes. The problem arises when the rhinos fight each other (may be over territorial rights) and then they can hurt each other badly. I do not know if the rhino in the picture was born with that kind of horn or had some portion of the horn knocked out in one of the fights.

      Nirdesh, in my humble opinion, North-East is probably the most beautiful part of the country, though sadly not much explored by tourists. So, do find time to visit the North-East.

      Incidentally, I am awaiting your next post. I hope I don’t have to wait long.

      Warm regards and God’s blessings.

      • Nirdesh Singh says:

        Hi Ram Sir,

        Thanks for the offer – will definitely take it up when we meet next!

        Last night I read TOI and it seems the number of rhinos killed this year has gone upto 38!

        Yes, NE is beautiful and hope to see this part of the country at leisure soon.

        Yes, I am working on a post and hope to complete it soon.

        Regards.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Nirdesh,

    I forgot to ask if you happen to watch the movie “Kapurush Mahapurush”, about which I mentioned in the post. It’s an old black & white classic from the golden collection of the immortal Satyajit Ray. I would request you to watch Kapurush (coward). The other part talks about a Mahapurush (a Jhansaram of the world), which you may skip.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    I love movies and have been thinking of watching Ray’s movies for some time. I have not even seen Pathar Panchali yet – so.

    Will start my search for the golden collection!

  • Debjit Chakraborty says:

    As I am planning for a visit to Kajiranga, its an wonderful informative tale for me.

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