This week’s Travel Photo of the Week takes us to the steamy grasslands of the Himalayan foothills in southern Nepal to meet a female Asiatic one horn rhino and her calf. These magnificent creatures were photographed cooling off in a water hole in the Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal. This 360 square mile park is one of the last refuges of the Indian one horned rhino as well as tigers, leopards and rare Gangetic dolphins. Originally a game hunting park for royalty and foreign dignitaries, this wildlife refuge became a national park in 1973, the first in Nepal.
Indian or Asiatic one-horned rhinos also called gaida by the people of Nepal are the fourth largest land animal weighing in at a hefty 3,500 to 7,700 pounds with a record of 8,800 pounds. These large herbivores once ranged throughout Pakistan, northern India into Burma and parts of China, they are now restricted to pockets of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh.
Male and female rhinos both sport the distinctive horn, young rhinos are born without the horn (as indicated by the photo). The horns originally believed to be fused hair are actually grown like human fingernails and are made mostly of keratin. This iconic symbol of the species is unfortunately it’s downfall. Traditional Chinese medicine inaccurately believes that it will cure a variety of aliments including cancer and impotence (see related PBS Nature article) . The demand for the horn has driven the price higher than gold or platinum (see related MSNBC article) making them very tempting to poachers. Areas such as Chitwan and other game preserves have proven that live animals have a far greater financial impact on an area as a result of tourism than the destruction and one time use of an individual animal.
Is riding an elephant on safari or seeing one of these amazing creatures on your bucket list, why not combine these with seeing the Himalayas? Contact the Travel Consultants at GW Nunn Adventures today to get your custom crafted itinerary to Nepal.