News from the Natural World: Indian Rhino’s holiday turns into a nightmare.
Over to our resident travel journalist the Javan Rhino for a piece of horny action. Earlier this week he caught up with an Indian Rhino to have a chat about its holiday plans, Rhino to Rhino. So, time to find out how the Indian Rhino’s less than savoury experience on a recent trip abroad went down…
“I’m so excited as I’m going on my first holiday overseas, but I’m worried about the change in diet. Will there still be tasty grasses, leaves, berries and roots to eat? At least I won’t have to be on the lookout for tigers and elephants. Although I have been recently living in the menagerie of the Sultan of Gujerat. As part of a gift exchange with some Portuguese official, I am being sent to Europe. I am an Indian rhino.”
Of the 5 rhino species, the Indian rhino is identified by its single horn. As well as its large, flexible, skin folds, which regulate body temperature. It can live up to 45yrs, weigh over 3000kgs and approaches 2m in height and 4m in length. It can outrun Usain Bolt at 35mph. This solitary animal (male) with a prehensile lip lives in tall grasslands and forests and enjoys bathing in rivers. Today this species can only be found in reserves in NE India and Nepal. Numbers are said to be around 3000.
Indian Rhino’s Holiday Turns into Nightmare
The Indian Rhino carried on “We set off from Goa in January running with the NE monsoon winds. I could barely stand in the cramped, dark hold as the ship was buffeted by the ocean swells. I appreciated the smells of spices wafting between decks but was alarmed when I found grains of rice in my feed. The ship followed the eastern coast of Africa and we also stopped in Mozambique for supplies. More strange food for me! We encountered storms in the Atlantic and put into St Helena and the Azores for shelter and to restock. Our long voyage ended (though the sailors said 120 days was a quick time) when we reached the port of Lisbon on the Tagus river.”
The Indian Rhino signed deeply “My arrival created pandemonium. Thousands visited the menagerie of King Manuel I outside the Ribeira Palace to marvel at my appearance, shouting words like “unicorn” and “armour.” A young elephant was led into my enclosure but when I advanced he ran away! I assumed I would remain in Portugal but, yet again, I was to be handed on as a gift, this time to Pope Leo X in Rome.
“For the Mediterranean voyage, I was finally chained up on the main deck, exposed to the elements. Francois I of France inspected me in Marseilles. Off the Ligurian coast, the ship was wrecked in a storm. I could probably have swum ashore if I had not been shackled. My carcass was washed up on the beach and returned to Lisbon to be stuffed, although stories circulated that I was displayed in Rome or even Florence under the Medicis.”
Nightmare Holiday From Hell
The Indian Rhino’s eyes glazed over “I claim to be the most famous rhino the world has ever seen. On my arrival in Renaissance Europe in 1515, I was the first rhino to set foot on the continent since Roman times. A crude sketch of me found its way to Nuremberg, north of the Alps, where the Lutheran printer Albrecht Durer produced a woodcut. With only the sketch to inform him, the German gave me an armoured look, even on my legs, and placed a small, second horn between my shoulder blades! But I do exude a sense of suppressed power, which I like. My woodcut, which has been extensively printed worldwide, is recognized as “the most influential animal picture ever!”
So there you have it, the Indian Rhino’s holiday turned into a nightmare after all.
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