National Geographic : 1957 Mar
398 Elephants Swim with Mahouts Aboard. The Author Chose a Dugout to Keep Dry Unlike the African rhinoceros, which uses his horn as a weapon, the great Indian rhino relies mainly on the enlarged incisors in his lower jaw, and in fighting apparently bites and swings his head to scoop with them. When we returned to the sanctuary, I meas ured the height of Sher Khan's wound. It was a full seven feet above the ground! Outcast Bulls Mellow with Age Later the same day, riding another elephant, I saw further evidence of the effects of the rhinos' teeth. We came upon a battered old bull rhino in a rice field just outside the sanctuary. Apparently he had just lost an argument over a lady rhino, and had been driven out of the area (page 392). He was still dripping and clean-unusually so, as the animals normally are caked with steel-gray mud from their wallows. He carried fresh gashes on his neck, shoulders, side, and hind leg. When we rode up, he paid little atten tion to us. With most wild animals, when an old male has been defeated, he becomes an outcast, a danger to both man and beast. But when an aging rhino is driven away by its fellows, it may take up a new residence near people, become extremely docile, and live peaceably in its wallows, bothering nobody. There have been several such instances at Kazi ranga, the most celebrated of these living in that state for more than 14 years. On my last evening at the sanctuary I rode in after dark. Lightning flickered here and there in the angry sky, and cooking fires glowed as orange points against the dark mass of the Mikir Hills. I thought again of the huge, improbable beasts I had been sent here to study. What a loss if they should ever be allowed to vanish completely. I hated to leave the rhinos-or any of the wildlife, the beauty, and adventure of the sanctuary. But it was good to know that, thanks to the farsighted efforts of the Indian Government and the IUC, it will be possible to return again and again to enjoy Kaziranga and its rich and varied inhabitants. INDEX FOR JULY-DECEMBER, 1956, VOLUME READY Index for Volume CX (July-December, 1956) of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE will be mailed upon request to members who bind their copies as works of reference.