National Geographic : 2010 Aug
• need for conservation. But the tallgrass habitats of alluvial plains are richer in large native ani- mals and far more rare. e park has meadows of naturally short grasses too, and the throngs of creatures visible on those open savannas rival scenes from the most famous African parks. On slightly higher ground, trees such as Indian lilac form airy forest canopies roped with vines. Rhesus macaques troop past the buttressed trunks. Parakeets and great hornbills decorate the branches. Cup your ears, and the voices of hundreds of other bird species swell from the shadows like a distant crowd cheering. Over ow channels that have become shallow lakes, periodically recharged with water and sh by the oods, pattern the landscape. Migratory waterbirds, from bar-headed geese to ruddy shelducks, crowd into Kaziranga wetlands over the winter with spot-billed pelicans and black- necked storks. While rare Pallas's sh-eagles scoop prey from ponds, or bils, otters on the hunt sometimes arc from the water like dol- phins. I even saw seven-foot-long Ganges River dolphins rising from the surface in the Brah- maputra. Endangered over most of their range, these mammals appear to be holding their own along the park's length of the river, free from shing pressures and entangling nets. , my guide, stopped our open-topped jeep so he could move another aquatic creature---an Indian tent turtle---o a back road on a hot a ernoon. e rest of us got out to stretch and watch. When I turned to check in the opposite direction, the view was terrible. "Rhino!" Close and churning toward us. ese organic tanks can sprint at more than 25 miles an hour. Visitors (Kaziranga hosts about 70,000 Indian tourists and 4,000 foreign tourists annually) must have an armed park guard travel with them, and the requirement is not an idle formality. We didn't have time to Tourists atop elephants are safe from rhinos--- and well positioned for a trek through Kazi- ranga. Swamp deer graze in an area of new growth stimulated by a fire set by park staff (right). Burns keep the grassland fertile and prevent woody plants from encroaching on the savanna.