National Geographic : 2010 Aug
leap in the vehicle and race away, so Ajit Ha- zarika red a round. It was a snap shot but per- fectly placed. e bullet kicked up a stinging spray of dirt inches from the attacker's front foot. Combined with the crack of the ri e, it was enough to make the rhino veer aside two seconds from us. Ten minutes later we were driving through forest along a raised dirt track when a rhino fresh from a wallow climbed onto the road, fol- lowed by an equally muddy juvenile two-thirds her size. Walking in leaf-so ened light on the red blossoms fallen from a silk-cotton tree, the pair slowed and exchanged a sni . A sec- ond subadult appeared behind. All three then dropped out of sight down the other side. We drove on a er waiting a bit, only to dis- cover mother rhino charging through the trees on a course aimed to collide with ours. No chance to back up, no hope of accelerating out of trouble on the rough track. Hazarika, in the passenger seat, couldn't even get o a shot before the earth- glazed female clobbered the jeep, which she far outweighed. His door caved in. I realized the rhino was shoving us toward the road's edge and butting our rig up onto two wheels, and I'd better get ready to jump before she rolled us. Unlike African rhinos, Indian rhinos don't gore an enemy with the spike on their heads. ey bite with large, sharp lower incisors. e female's teeth were gouging deep grooves into the jeep's steel. Damn. Konwar had laid down a rule for Kaziranga--- "No allowed for scared." I was breaking it while he gunned the engine, ghting for traction. At last the vehicle leveled out and skidded free. But she instantly gave chase, and it was still touch and go in a cloud of dust for several hundred feet. Our destination was a site where the tracks of two tigers had been seen around a fresh rhino carcass. Tigers claim as many as 15 percent of the rhino calves in Kaziranga. is carcass spoke of My guide had made a rule: "No allowed for scared." I was breaking it as the rhino butted our rig up onto two wheels.