Rhinos and Elephant Safaris

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Feb 23, 2005

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Flag of India  , Assam,
Thursday, February 17, 2005

We really enjoyed Kaziranga Park.  The countryside in this area is lush and tropical and appeared much cleaner though much less populated then other areas we visited in India.  This was our nature highlight.  Though we saw no tigers (only a few supposedly are found in this area) we did see Indian rhino which have an armoured appearance as opposed to the rhinos found in Africa. We also saw some wild Asian elephants and wild water buffalo as well as herds of antelope and an incredible variety of birdlife (including toucans!).

The way back was quite an experience.  We had an escort of police and military vehicles lead us back to the airport as there were strikes (we were told the tea workers were striking...we later came to believe this was part of the Assam independence movement.)  Our bus was actually shot at and the window blown  on the way to pick us up.  We weren't told of this so as not to make us worry but the police along the way and our windows shaded made us somewhat nervous.  Despite all that, we loved Kaziranga and the Assam region.

We had a long but interesting drive (about 5 hours to Kaziranga National Park.  The Brahmaputra River, with its expansive mosaic of swampy marshes, riverine woodlands, and lowland subtropical forest provides one with a glimpse of what wild Asia must have been like before the onset of overpopulation and wholesale agricultural development.

Kaziranga is arguably one of southern Asia’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries.  It is the last remaining stronghold for the great Indian one-horned rhinoceros, which saw from elephant back, as well as from our jeeps. Tigers are also supposedly well represented here, but we saw none.   We  also had saw endangered wild Asian elephants, the extremely local and water buffalo, swamp and hog deer.

With regard to birdlife, three hornbill species are found here, the globally endangered bengal florican (a member of the bustard family), the endangered white-winged duck, six species of stork (including the severely endangered greater adjutant stork), three species of pelican (including the globally threatened spot-billed pelican), multiple raptor possibilities (including six eagle species), the globally threatened swamp francolin, Eurasian griffon, fairly bluebird, and 350 other avian species recorded to date.  Kaziranga is as fabulous for bird watching as it is for mammals! 

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