Phil Tufnell travels to the Indian Kaziranga National Park, home to 75 per
cent of the world's Indian rhinoceros population, in the fifth Saving Planet
Earth celebrity expedition.
There are only about 2,000 of these rhino left in the wild. Weighing up to
two tonnes, they are often killed for just a few kilograms of their weight:
their horn, which is sold for use in Chinese medicine.
Recently, four rhino were killed in the Park. Poaching is on the increase
and the already over-stretched forest guard are facing an up-hill battle.
Phil discovers just how scary it is to be on the front line when he goes on
night patrol with them. The Kaziranga Park is a tourist attraction by day,
but a totally different place at night. "It may look tranquil," Phil says,
"but, actually, it's a war zone." The forest guards risk their lives to
protect the rhino and several have been killed in shoot-outs with the
Phil recognises that raising money to save rhinos is a tall order: "I think
I've been bowled a bit of a googly here. I mean, they are a bit lazy and a
bit ugly ... bit like me, really. If only they were cute and cuddly ... it
would be much easier to get people to put their hands in their pockets!"
While taking an elephant ride through the Park, he comes within touching
distance of a baby rhino and its mother. He says: "They may not win any
beauty contests ... but that's no reason to kill them off ... they don't ask
for much from life and the least we can do is make things safe for them."
A ú10 donation to the BBC Wildlife Fund could help the Aaranyak Project
supply a pair of stout boots for a forest guard.
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