Giving back: An India rhino trip

Giving back: An India rhino trip
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My name is Sofia and I am 9.

When we got on our flight from London to India, I was a little scared of going to such a huge country but also very excited to have the chance to go on my first Indian safari. When we landed in Delhi, I couldn’t believe how different life seemed here and I knew our family adventure had begun. A week into our stay, we headed to Assam in North East India to go to the world famous Kaziranga National Park. We had come to see the endangered asiatic greater one horned rhino. I had seen a TV programme on the park and rhinos on a nature documentary, but couldn’t believe I was going there with my family.

We went on our first game drive in the afternoon and were so lucky to get some great sightings of lots of different animals – very quickly we saw some of the famous rhinos and also wild elephants. I was most excited to see them all living in their natural home, in the wild, and I took lots of photographs to show all my friends.

Our driver, who was also our guide, told us that the asiatic greater one horned rhino is an endangered species that roams around the Indian sub-continent. This is quite dangerous for them because there are hunters who cut off their horns and sell them illegally. Often they kill the rhinos to do this or leave them dying in pain. I learnt that there are only 3,500 left in the entire world and most of them live in Kaziranga (I think that’s close to 2,500 of the total population).

One of the best moments for me was seeing a mother and baby rhino playing in a water hole looking so relaxed. We were able to get quite close. They looked really healthy but it made me feel a little sad that sometimes they do not survive because they can be killed by humans. It made me realise that it is important to come and visit them to help save them – both to protect the population and also raise awareness by telling others about them. I know that my visit to Kaziranga National Park has helped me learn a lot about these rhino and the money from the park fees will help with their long term survival. I said I wanted to become a wildlife photographer so I could go around the world and take pictures of these precious creatures so more people could learn about them.

We stayed at the Diphlu River Lodge, a beautiful lodge with cottages on stilts with lots of handmade crafts and decorations. I would be so happy to come back here with my family and see them again, all content, in good health and most importantly all free.

Rhino


About Diphlu River Lodge

Diphlu River Lodge is located close to Kaziranga National Park. It was purposely built to blend into the surroundings and provide a modern day ecotourism lodge experience.

Diphlu River Lodge is committed to responsible tourism, taking great care to ensure that nature, the wild and local communities always come first. They recycle the grey water, provide hospitality training to young boys and girls from neighbouring villages, have started an in-house women’s weaving unit, and have a low light and noise policy within the lodge premises, among other initiatives.

About Kaziranga National Park & the Rhino

Kaziranga National Park is located in the state of Assam. The park is home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the census held in March 2018, the rhino population in Kaziranga National Park is 2,413. Kaziranga is also home to the highest density of tigers among protected areas in the world, and was declared a Tiger Reserve in 2006. When compared with other protected areas in India, Kaziranga has achieved notable success in wildlife conservation. Located on the edge of the Eastern Himalaya biodiversity hotspot, the park combines high species diversity and visibility.

According to WWF, the greater one-horned rhino (or “Indian rhino”) is the largest of the rhino species. Once widespread across the entire northern part of the Indian sub-continent, rhino populations plummeted as they were hunted for sport or killed as agricultural pests. This pushed the species very close to extinction and by the end of the 20th century, fewer than 200 animals remained.

The recovery of the greater one-horned rhino is among the greatest conservation success stories in Asia. Thanks to strict protection and management from Indian and Nepalese wildlife authorities, the greater one-horned rhino was brought back from the brink. Today populations have increased to around 3,500 rhinos in northeastern India and the Terai grasslands of Nepal.

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