There’s nothing I love more then discovering new wildlife while I’m travelling. I always thought of rhinoceros as something I’d have to wait to see until Africa, but that’s not the case. Travelling through Asia, I’ve discovered the majestic greater one-horned rhino.
The Greater One-Horned Rhino
The greater one horned rhinoceros is a rhinoceros native to the Indian subcontinent. It is the largest of all the rhinoceros species, and listed as vulnerable by the world wildlife foundation. The species was once on the brink on extinction at the end of the 20th century, with fewer then 200 left in the wild. Thanks to strict protection and management from India and Nepal, the greater one horned rhino is a conservation success. The population is now back up to 3,500!
Poaching is the biggest threat to the one horned rhino, driven by demand for rhinos horn. Traditional Asian medicine has used powdered horn for centuries, in the belief that it has aphrodisiac and medical purposes. Thankfully in recent years governments have been taking more action to track poachers and keep the rhino protected.
One-Horned Rhinos in Nepal
Nepal’s one-horned rhino population has been increasing and there are now over 600 rhinos in the country. Most of these are in Chitwan National Park, a popular national park in Nepal famous for its sightings of the one-horned rhino. I recently had the chance to visit Chitwan National Park, where I was lucky enough to have several encounters with the one-horned rhino. On my first day at the park, I saw a rhino without even being on safari. All of the lodging for guests visiting the park is in Sauraha, a small village close by Chitwan National Park. We took a walk around the village and within 15 minutes saw the first one-horned rhino.
Talking to travellers afterwards, I found out that they also saw the rhino at the same spot. It seems that the rhino likes to visit the river near the village at dusk, so try your luck there for a free rhino sighting if you visit Chitwan National Park.
On my second day in Chitwan National Park I booked a jeep safari in the hopes of seeing more rhinos and the royal bengal tiger. The safari started off slow, we didn’t see any animals except a few spotted deer. After about an hour, we came across our first rhino sighting! It was a beautiful setting. The rhino was grazing on the grass, and to the right of him were two crocodiles. Meanwhile, flocks of birds flew back and forth over the scene. It felt like I was looking at something out of National Geographic.
We continued driving through the park and out of nowhere a mama rhino and her young walk out onto the road right in front of us. They stop and pause for a minute to check us out (just enough time to take a picture) and then continue on their way. I couldn’t believe my luck, the baby rhino must was only a month or two old. How cute!
Happy with all the rhino sightings, I wasn’t expecting to see anymore. However on the way out of the park we were greeted by one more rhino. He wasn’t bothered by the jeep at all, just kept eating away while we all admired and took photos.
Although we didn’t see the royal bengal tiger, I felt satisfied with my safari experience at Chitwan National Park. I didn’t love Chitwan for other reasons, but the park is doing great work with conservation efforts towards the one-horned rhino.
Greater One-Horned Rhino in India
If you can’t make it to Nepal, India provides an even better opportunity to see the greater one-honred rhino in the wild. The India state of Assam is home to the largest population of one-horned rhinos, with most of these living in Kaziranga National Park. Although I didn’t get a chance to go there, it looks like a beautiful park with great odds of seeing the one-horned rhino, as well as the elusive royal bengal tiger.