Animals,  Fauna,  Nature

The Rhinos of Kaziranga

Reminded of Ogden Nash’s poem, The Rhinoceros:

The Rhino is a homely beast,
For human eyes he’s not a feast,
But you and I will never know
Why Nature chose to make him so.
Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
I’ll stare at something less prepoceros.

Rather nasty that! But it was amazing to see this large beast at Kaziranga National Park. Kaziranga, a World Heritage Site, is home to the world’s largest population of the greater one-horned rhinoceroses- almost 2000 of them.

My favourite shot! I felt it actually stopped in its tracks to grin and pose for my camera. Notice the jungle mynas getting a free ride
Tabanus flies, a type of horse-fly, are known to bite rhinos. Egrets and mynas both eat these insects from the rhino’s skin and around its feet

Indian rhinos are excellent swimmers. The folds in their skin trap water and hold it even when they come back on land.

Care for a piggyback ride across the river? 
While rhinos eat grass, leaves, and shrubs, we caught this one chewing on aquatic plants when submerged in the water 
Rhinos have an excellent sense of hearing and smell, but poor eyesight. This one was crossing the road, but scurried back at the sound of our vehicle

The scientific name Rhinoceros unicornis comes from the Greek: ‘rhino’, meaning nose and ‘keros’ means horn of an animal. The Latin ‘uni’ of course means single and ‘cornis’ means horn. But just look at the armour-like hide!

Indian rhinos are grazers- so a long walk in the grasslands of Kaziranga is usual
Hello mister! Good morning, can I have a word with you?
Yes, ma’am, did you say something? I am all ears!
The ear of the rhinoceros!

Sadly, poachers abound here in Kaziranga and keeping them in check is a huge problem. They are hunted for their horn which is incidentally made up of keratin. The horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fever, rheumatism and gout. But more these days as a status symbol. Terrible state of affairs.

Friends in need are friends indeed! An example of symbiosis: Egrets eat ticks and other parasites off the rhino. The rhino has a hard time getting the ticks off itself.

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