We traveled to the border of India with Nepal, where began the legend of a creature able to attract people from around the world: The Indian Unicorn.
An incredible animal with a horn on its forehead, which can cure the ills of poor people who share ground with him.
We follow the traces of this myth built 20 centuries ago crossing a jungle inhabited by wild creatures among which stands out one, the unicorn and is now known as the Indian rhinoceros, a unique species with enormous power on his forehead.
The Indian rhinoceros have changed very little in the last million years. As they are basically unsociable, the typical group of rhinoceroses is this: a female with her child. A vegetarian diet is lacking in a number of nutrients, which the rhinoceroses have to obtain from other sources. In certain places in the jungle, the soil is rich in mineral salts and trace elements, and so the mothers take their children there from when they are very young. They memorise the location, and so the knowledge of these secret places is passed down from one generation of rhinos to the next.
They literally eat the soil.
No one in the jungle would dare disturb a female rhinoceros with her young. Their ferocity and courage are almost as legendary as their horns. For the rhinoceros, as for many other species of animal in this part of the world, water means a cool retreat, and a place to find food.
Rhinoceroses are perfectly content half-submerged in their very own vegetable soup, from which they eat while placing virtually no stress on their backbone, which most of the time has to carry the enormous weight of the animal.
This tendency for very heavy mammals to submerge themselves in water, and so compensate for their weight, was precisely what led some of them to return to the sea many millions of years ago, giving rise to the cetaceans. What cannot be denied is that rhinoceroses swim well and with evident satisfaction.
The soup, which is vegetable for the rhinoceros, becomes fish soup for the majority of the birds, such as this Asian stork.
This male Asian jabiru is also a type of stork, and like all others in the family, is not adverse to scavenging when carrion is around, in this case the dead body of a coot.
The marsh crocodile can be found throughout much of the Indian subcontinent. Over four metres in length, it shelters in holes, and eats birds.
More than reason enough to make a quick exit when you hear one entering the water.
This enormous snout belongs to a close relative of the crocodile, and an expert fisher. The gavial can reach up to six and a half metres in length, and is a zoological treasure that lives only in this part of the world.