Indian Rhino

The Indian rhino or greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is now only found in a small number of sites in northern India and southern Nepal, but used to range across the entire northern portion of the Indian subcontinent (from what is now Pakistan to the Myanmar border).  Until a hunting ban in India in 1910, the species was very nearly extinct, with only 12 rhinos left at Kaziranga in 1908.  It has been a long and continuing struggle against poaching, habitat destruction and climate change to see an entire species population estimate approaching 1000 individuals by the late 1970’s, and finally passing 2500 only in the last 15 years.

Indian rhinos are the second largest terrestrial animal on the subcontinent, after the Asiatic elephant and the second largest living rhino species, behind the (African) white rhino.  The males weigh in around 2200kg, measuring 170-185cm at the shoulder, and females reach an average of 1600kg and 150-175cm in height.  Both males and females grow a single ‘horn’ which appears around 6 years of age as they approach breeding age in the wild, and reaches around 25cm in length; this is in fact made of pure keratin – like our finger nails!  The skin of an Indian rhino resembles armoured-plating, with thick skinfolds and wart-like bumps on their shoulders and upper legs.

They are grazers, eating mainly grasses but also leaves and branches of shrubby trees, fruits and aquatic plants.  They have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, but poor eyesight, they are great swimmers and can run in short bursts at over 30mph.  The rhinos can be observed in small loose groups of around 6 subadults or adult females with calves, adult males are more often solitary but can remain surprisingly tolerant of others except in mating season.  Groups form around wallows and grazing areas, and the rhinos are most active early morning and late afternoon, and rest or wallow regularly during the heat of the day.  Their skin folds increase their surface area, allowing them to better regulate their temperature, also trapping water in the folds when wallowing.

The largest individual populations remain in Kaziranga (Assam) and Chitwan (Nepal), with each of the remaining nine sites each listing fewer than 100 rhinos.  In fact Kaziranga is currently home to more than 70% of the wild Indian rhino population, putting the core population at considerable risk each time the land is threatened by flood in the monsoon season or drought in the peak of dry spells.

Rhinos and Tigers of Kaziranga National Park

In terms of timing Kaziranga has a relatively short season compared to the north and central parks; it reopens after the monsoon in November and closes at the end of April.  The main migratory bird season is mid-November to late February.  During late December and early January the early morning chill can result in some rather misty conditions that can hamper wildlife viewing (lifted by midday), and Christmas/ New Year is best avoided due to increased domestic and international visitors.  During January the process of grass burning begins, working on contained patches the elephant grass (and any invading trees) are burned, so for a short time mammals become more visible as they graze and move more openly on the new growth but within a few months it regains its enveloping height, meanwhile vegetation levels in the forest and riverine areas become more sparse. So on balance the best times can be mid-November to mid-December (if birds have a strong appeal) or mid February to late March (for increased mammal visibility) – the rhinos can be seen in all months.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 7
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£1470
Primates, Rhinos & Hornbills in India

After spending 30 days in West Bengal and Assam during April 2018, Allan Blanchard and his friend and expert wildlife guide, Avijit Dutta, wanted to bring together the very best wildlife experiences these two beautiful states have to offer and put together a completely unique and unmatched Wildlife Trails small group wildlife tour of North East India. The result is a beautiful overland trip, visiting some of the regions most iconic wildlife sanctuaries; including Gibbon Sanctuary, Kaziranga, Manas, Pakke and Nameri. Far fewer international and domestic visitors make it across to these beautiful national parks and as a result we have the chance to enjoy the amazing wildlife without the crowds that can affect your enjoyment in north and central India.

Style - Bespoke Wildlife
Duration (Excl. Flights) - 16
Activity Level
When to Go
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
Price (Excl. flights)
£3490