Kaziranga – March 2020 – Tour Report

Kaziranga National Park is ever buzzing with wildlife activities. If you are the one who loves to soak in the wilderness, Kaziranga extends a warm welcome to you. The trumpeting elephants and the grunting   rhinos captivates all your attention. The beautiful, multi-faceted habitat beckons you. Your excitement soars as you set yourselves to discover the marvellous forests.

That is why I always look forward to visiting Kaziranga. Once the participants are ready, I was looking forward to meeting them to get going on the new exploration. This time, we had two batches of participants, inquisitive to visit Kaziranga. It was great to spend a longer duration in the UNESCO heritage site clicking pictures and creating wonderful images.

The Land of the Gentle Giants
Rhino Kaziranga - the real hulk
Image by Abhijit Prahlad

Kaziranga is undoubtedly synonymous with the Indian Great one-horned Rhinos. As soon as we enter the forest area, these rhinos can be seen in close quarters. Being extremely rare around the world, the one-horned rhinos can be spotted in good numbers here.

We captured the big rhinos in different settings. Once near a meadow and another time near a muddy swamp. We saw a few single rhinos and a few rhinos with their calves. Whenever we spotted these rhinos, there was a feeling of pride. The pride of clicking the precious rhinos in the well-conserved area.

It is painful to learn that these distinct species were severely poached a few decades ago. Though they are well protected now, there are still those odd instances. Earlier days, the Rhinos were mercilessly killed to obtain their horns.

It was believed, horns brought good luck to households. They were also considered to have medicinal value and were used in preparation of portions. Though in reality, the horn is only made up of keratin. The same protein found in our hair and nails.  

The Happy Elephant herds

On one side, there were the bulky rhinos, on the other, there were the giant elephants. We saw many herds of elephants in Kaziranga this time. They looked joyful being together migrating from one place to another.

Once a large herd crossed our paths. They just passed before our safari jeep. Adult males, females and little calves gleefully followed one another. We happily looked at each one of them and captured their behaviour in our cameras.

Then, we had an encounter with a lonely tusker. He was just too close to our safari jeep. We crossed our fingers and took deep breaths in anticipation of his next moves. He looked at us contemplating whether to charge or not.

 A few seconds later, he just walked inside the bushes. Since, we were quiet and still, he probably thought, we meant no harm and left the spot. It is important to stay quiet and maintain calmness in such situations.

Images below by Nagesha MN

The Pug Marks of Royal Bengal Tiger

After having gathered a good number of images of the Rhinos and the Elephants, we drove towards the bank of Brahmaputra River. To our utter surprise, we noticed the pug marks of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Even though, there is a high density of Tigers in Kaziranga, it is a matter of luck to spot them.

We were thrilled to know that the royal beast had visited this place just about a few hours ago. All of us just wished we could be at this spot to witness the majestic stride of our national animal. We clicked the paw prints embedded on the river sand and convinced ourselves to be happy.

The Entertaining Otters

Next, while passing a small stream, the splashing sound of the water grabbed our attention. There were a family of freshwater otters playing in the river. We were totally delighted to watch these lively creatures in their free-spirited state.

The cute otters were busy in their activities. They were diving, swimming, fishing and coming on to the land to roll on the grasses. We saw them munching on the fish together and also watched Black-necked Storks and Ibises poking their beaks inside to grab their fish meal.

Otters are on the verge of extinction due to the increased pollution in the rivers. It is natural for any wildlife lover to be excited to watch the otters in rivers. It means the rivers are in a better state for these little mammals to thrive.

I always insist on capturing the otters’ lovely behaviour. They are such a joyous creatures.  We enjoyed clicking their pictures and capturing their animated behaviours in the videos too. We then left in search of other target species.  

Smooth-coated Otters Kaziranga
Image by Vikram Hiresavi
The Great Hornbills Nesting Preparation

I think, the playful otters had infected their energy on to us. We began exploring the forests with elevated adrenaline. This is when, we found a pair of the Great Hornbills high upon a tree. It was a remarkable sighting. They were preparing to lay eggs and expand their family.

The female hornbills completely dedicate their lives in taking care of the new off springs. They depend wholly on the males to feed them. They shed their feathers and turn themselves immobile while nurturing their little ones.

In our sighting, we witnessed the couple practicing a new way of life beforehand. The male hornbill had fruit in its beak trying to feed his partner. The female partner looked investigating the tree hole for its fallacies.

Our cameras burst into clicks as soon as we spotted the hornbill pair. It is once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the nesting preparation behaviour by the hornbills. We shot videos and also captured their beautiful pictures from various angles. 

Great hornbill
Image by Nagesha MN
Great Indian Hornbill Kaziranga
Image by Vikram Hiresavi

We also spotted and clicked various birds of Kaziranga. Oriental Pied Hornbill, Dusky eagle owl, Brown-fish owl, Asian barred owlet, spotted owlet, Common stonechat, Black redstart, Grey-headed fish eagle, Pallas fish eagle, Chestnut-headed bee eaters, Pied kingfishers and many more

Images below by Vikram Hiresavi and Nagesh MN

The Gibbon Apes

Just near the Kaziranga National Park is the Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary. This is the sanctuary to host the only Indian Ape, the Hoolock Gibbon. I, particularly like this sanctuary because of the tall hollong trees. They provide marvellous picture backgrounds while we capture the Gibbons.

When we entered the sanctuary, we had an acoustic treat from the Indian apes. One set of gibbons were loudly calling to establish their territory to the other set. Their communication was reciprocated by the other group of gibbons by returning their call.

It was a memorable episode with the gibbons. We recorded their calling to come back and hear again. These are the moments that make us re-live the time we spend in the forests.

Images below by Nagesha MN

Exploring Kaziranga

Visiting a forest and sighting the wildlife for a photo tour does not mean that we search for the target species only. I truly believe every inch of the jungle have something to say. It is about observation, learning, and exploration.

The vast jungles give us ample sightings. It may be in the form of a Tiger or an Elephant. It can be the bark of a tree or a clutter of mushrooms on a broken branch. It is about us to pause and capture every little thing.

Being the skipper of the photo tour, I ensure that my participants look around and embrace the nature wholeheartedly. That is what Birdwing aspires to do. We showcase nature to the wildlife enthusiasts in its truest form.

Every photo tour is about knowing nature a little better. Discussing every photograph and improvising is in order to bring the essence of the forests to the world.

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