Kaziranga beyond the Rhinoceros

Kaziranga National Park is home to the highest population of the Indian One Horned Rhinoceros species anywhere in the World. In addition, Kaziranga is also home to the highest population density of tigers in India and has the largest population of the Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo. When you are at Kaziranga National Park, it is fine to be drawn towards the sight of the Indian Rhinoceros, but those who visit this forest reserve only see the rhinoceros and tigers are at times disappointed for not being able to sight the tigers here. Indian Rhinoceros are ubiquitous to the park, but the physical sighting of the tiger is a chancy affair. However, it can be stated to you to not be blinded to the beauty of the grassland paradise which is filled with flowering plants, beautiful water bodies and all the smaller creature on which the tiger and rhino are so totally dependant. In the Brahmaputra river that flows across the Kaziranga National Park, you must wander a while in search of otters, river dolphins, mahseer and any of the 500 bird species you can see here. But to bring to your notice, nothing can replace the knowledge of a guide, mahout or a wildlife expert who can always help you to find and identify animals at Kaziranga National Park.

Always make it a point to remember that even if you don’t see an animal, you can see the evidence of its presence. A tiger may leave claw marks on a tree bark, an owl may leave its dropping with the bones of its victim under its perch, a snake could leave a shed skin. Many may claim to have sighted nothing inside the premises of the National Park but the truth is every inch of the forest is alive and some activity or the other can be surely noticed. Curiosity is a very big asset and once you are able to question yourself as to which animals are here, which animal left this footprint, what could have gnawed at the bark of a tree will answer your knowledge of the animals to look out for at Kaziranga National Park.

Hidden signs are always present around your vicinity to give you a clue as to what animals can be sighted. Half eaten fruits, leaves and droppings beneath favored food trees many indicate langurs have been present here. The leaves and fruit they drop might also attract deers. Zigzag patterns in loose soil may suggest recent movement of a snake. Nail marks on tracks indicate presence of a fox or jackal. Heavy curvature of toes and large sized pug marks can help differentiate hyena from those of foxes and jackals. Tiger and leopard scats (faeces) are usually seen in grass in the center or at the edges of roads and are accompanied by scrape marks left by their hind legs. While droppings below a tree suggest a possible bird roosting site.

Nested holes in dead woods are often the handiwork of woodpeckers and barbets. Carpets of green or black sphericals pellets below plants could belong to caterpillars of butterflies/moths. Empty moults attached to twigs or rocks near waterholes or streams usually belong to nymphs of dragonflies and damselflies. Typical gnaw markings on bark of tendu or bidi patta suggest that a hungry porcupine has been busy at night. Five toe markings in soft mud suggest a mongoose has passed by. Deep scratch marks, as high as 15 m. from the ground is the handiwork of sloth bears that clamber up trees in search of fruit, honey or insects. Rust colored patches on tree trunks of Kaziranga National Park may mean a male deer has rubbed its antlers to peel off the outer, velvety sheath od dead skin. It is good to discover Kaziranga National Park in its entirety. At the risk of repetition, celebrate the sight of tiger or a rhino, but please do not be disappointed if one does not reveal itself. Come away happy and humbled by the sheer beauty of this wilderness. It has a magical creation of nature that no human handcrafted.