Chitwan National Park, Nepal – October 2010

Greater One-Horned Rhinos

The first night we stayed in Chitwan, the Park was buffeted by a huge rainstorm, bringing down trees near the tent we stayed in and wiping out large portions of the road in the park.

Elephant ride in the morning fog

As such, over the next three days, our only method of travel was by elephant. While the mode of transport isn’t the most comfortable, it’s the only true all-terrain vehicle in the jungle there. We spent hours on the giant beasts, walking through tall elephant grass, following tiger tracks (we never found one), and spotting monkeys, deer and the one-horned rhinos that the park is famous for.

During one expedition, we came across a trio of rhinos crossing the river (the three pictured at the top of this page). We watched them as they fought through the current and up on to the shore. At that point, they noticed us – and one put its head down and charged! It is intimidating to have a four or five tonne animal racing towards you, and our elephant was certainly not immune to that. She turned to flee, but was brought back by a sharp whack from the mahout.

Eye contact

He turned her back to face the rhino head-on who quickly realized the size mismatch he was racing in to. Beaten, the rhino turned sharply left and ran off after his two companions as we finally started breathing again.

While we continued to see rhinos constantly in Chitwan, some at very close quarters, I’m happy to say that was the only one who bothered to charge us.

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