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Rhinos in Chitwan

Rhinos in Chitwan National Park in Nepal

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Earlier our trip took us into India where we traveled from New Delhi to Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi before arriving in Nepal at its south border. We were on our way to Nepal’s capital city Kathmandu, but first we pitched our camp at the Royal Chitwan National Park. We were ready for our encounter with rhinos…

Cities versus Mother Nature

Me and my wife love cities. We love to wander around places like New Delhi, Bangkok and Hanoi. Places that never sleep. Places where strange, intruiging and extreme things happen just because it’s such a crowded place.
Why do cities exist? We humans always seem to form tribes. We settle together in cities because we believe that’s a safe thing to do. In the early days we crowded together to protect each other, but against what? Against the fear of being excluded? Against loneliness? Against Mother Nature maybe?

ALSO READ: Why we travel to cities?

I can imagine that people lived together to warn each other against the unpredictable forces of Mother Nature: extreme weather or dangerous animals. I felt such a kind of warning when we were on the back of the elephant and the guide urged on us to be quiet. We did already conquer the forces of the elephant we were riding, but there was another majestic animal waiting for us in the jungle: the rhino.

Rhinos in Chitwan

Gazing rhinos in Chitwan

On the pictures they look quite relaxed, standing in the water, just gazing around a bit. When they feel threatened however, it’s time to watch out for the colossal power of the rhino. We were quiet, not because we were afraid, but honestly speaking because we were impressed. Impressed by the beauty of this armored creature. Look at his skin, it’s like he was time-warped from the stone Age.

Rhinos in Chitwan

In earlier days human settlements functioned as a protection against the power of nature. Nowadays we need to get out of our settlements more to find and experience the beauty of nature. And yes, times have changed and things have turned around. We don’t have to protect ourselves that much anymore. Instead we have to protect Mother Nature from the devastating effect of our cities with its millions of inhabitants. Although endangered, the stone Age descendant is quietly waiting for us to understand.

Rhinos in Chitwan

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Bama December 8, 2011 - 16:23

It’s amazing to see rhino in the wild, not in cage. Unfortunately in Java (the most densely populated island in the world) many wild animals have become extinct. Only a handful of species remain safe in national parks at the remote corners of the island.

Emiel van den Boomen December 13, 2011 - 14:49

Thank you Bama. Indeed it’s amazing to watch these animals in the wild. Unfortunately we have populated too many of their habitat. I am glad there are still places like this..

Emily Cannell December 7, 2011 - 23:56

I would have had a heart attack.

Tracey December 6, 2011 - 16:14

Wow.  Wow.  And Wow!!!  These pictures are amazing!!  I’m dying to get on the road and start to see some of the things you have seen and experienced – Yes even the Delhi Belly!!

Emiel van den Boomen December 8, 2011 - 14:47

Well thank you Tracey! Even with Delhi Belly, well, I talk to you after two weeks in India LOL. Really, India and Nepal are amazing countries. Difficult to travel in sometimes, but so much worth it. We plan to visit at least Nepal again in 2012.

Manuel Loigeret December 5, 2011 - 19:18

Incredible pictures. I can’t imagine the feeling of rhino gazing in the wild. And I like how you make a parallel with cities. 
I have a deep urge to go in the wild and be in danger too. Perhaps this comes from too much safe time spent in the city

Emiel van den Boomen December 5, 2011 - 22:41

Manu, you are on the verge of leaving the city, right? Be in danger, challenge the extreme, away from the safe side. When a rhino gazes at you, you wonder if he is looking at you. Does he maybe welcome you to the danger zone? Or does he compliment you for being there in the wild? Feelings can go bazerk.

Clark Vandeventer December 5, 2011 - 19:14

Great perspective and great photos.  Before Monica and I had kids we were always traveling to cities.  When we had kids and became a traveling family we found ourselves drawn to Mother Nature — getting out into the wilderness and exploring.

What an amazing experience this must have been!

Emiel van den Boomen December 5, 2011 - 22:35

Thanks Clark! I think cities can be an interesting place for kids as well, especially when you want to show different cultures and habits. But it’s tiring, so Mother Nature is the best way to relax and explore totally different things.
It was an amazing experience. Sadly my wife couldn’t join because she was ill (Delhi Belli from 3 weeks traveling in India)… 

Nancy Sathre-Vogel December 5, 2011 - 19:12

I’m so jealous! We spent three whole days in Chitwan looking for rhinos and barely saw one through the tall grass. All the other travelers were seeing lots and lots of them but when we arrived they vanished! Someday I’ll get back and get to see them like you did!

Emiel van den Boomen December 5, 2011 - 22:28

Really Nancy? That’s a pity but then again, nature cannot be manipulated. We experienced kind of the same thing in Peru. We were trying to find condors way up in the Andes. Many people saw them, but we didn’t…well, we had a blast anyway, chewing coca leaves all the times 🙂 I hope the pictures here relieve your ‘pain’ a bit…. 

Cherszy December 5, 2011 - 12:55

I have never seen a rhino before, but it does look very adorable even with that bulky body. It seems so relaxed and peaceful, and I kinda envy him. I can’t believe I’m envying a rhino, but I really do. It seems like a lazy guy, just sitting there by the water and waiting for the sun to set. 

Emiel van den Boomen December 5, 2011 - 22:25

Even the biggest animals on our planet can look adorable. Thanks for visiting Cherszy!

Mark David Robertson December 5, 2011 - 09:04

He looks pretty cute to me–for a big-ugly armored water-beast :]. 

In the US, many of us have a false, “pastoral” view of nature: it’s cute, and calm, and lovely, But if you live in Nepal or Iceland, it’s raw, isn’t it? Frightening, powerful, beautiful. 

I like how Manu Loigeret insists that we (and our cities, suburbs, and exurbs), are parts of nature. This thought keeps me in awareness that I’m grateful for shelter and modern conveniences, but humbled. 

Thanks for digging back in to some Nepalese moments. I think you’re writing and pics are evolving into a more poignant place: I remember when I used to “capture the whole trip” in journals and docs. This was crazy! How can you write a sentence on a rhino?

Have you heard of Annie Dillard? She is a master of capturing moments (usually in nature and of natural phenomena); she’s kind of a dense read, but you would love it. 

Have a great week, Emiel.

Emiel van den Boomen December 5, 2011 - 10:02

Thank you Mark. Cute guy, isn’t he?

I don’t know Annie Dillard but it appeals to me when you talk about ‘capturing moments’. Let’s see if I can find some work from here. Thanks for pointing that out to me.

I agree that capturing a whole trip is tempting, but it’s more rewarding to remember a certain moment and really get into that. If you think about moments, guarantee you never run out of inspiration for your writing!

Happy to hear you think my blog evolves into a more poignant place. I guess I feel most comfortable writing like that, it helps me grow as a person. 

Mark David Robertson December 5, 2011 - 12:15 Reply
Ted December 5, 2011 - 00:05

Awesome post and incredible picture of the formidable rhino. Never seen a rhino, but these pictures remind me of our moose, which I have seen many times in Minnesota and Canada.

Emiel van den Boomen December 5, 2011 - 00:11

Thank you Ted! I have never seen a moose, must be an incredible animal as well…


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