The water rippled as he surfaced, horn first. A gust of air exited his nostrils while water dripped copiously from his hairy ear tips. His rugged coat glistened as he wobbled out of the pond, continuously staring at us.
He was a one-horned rhinoceros, a prehistoric-looking creature. A remarkable animal, its leathery hide folds like armour across its barrel-like body. They are behemoths, sometimes surpassing 2 tonnes.
I was in Kaziranga Tiger Reserve, one of the last strongholds of this pachyderm. Once plentiful, they were almost hunted to extinction.
Poachers target them for their horns, an 8-inch protrusion on the nose.
The horns are sold in China to people who believe it is an aphrodisiac. Science has discredited this, but this doesn’t stop poaching. The horn is made of keratin, the same material as human hair. It has absolutely no medicinal value.
Interestingly, these rhinos don’t use their horns as a weapon. Instead, they bite with their incisors, inflicting large wounds on their adversaries.
I watched as he carefully regarded us and then, with a swish of its tail, went about his own business. As he ambled off, I was glad I could share his presence.
- Camera: OLYMPUS OM-D E-M5
- Lens: OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8
- Aperture: F6.3
- Shutter Speed: 1/400s
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