ARE RHINOCEROS DIFFICULT TO KILL? 83
All rhinoceros delight in swamps, and lie in mud-holes for the greater part of the day. In a good-sized mud-hole one day I saw a rhinoceros lying at one end, and a buffalo at the other. I have never shot the lesser rhinoceros on the right bank of the Brahmapootra, but I have no doubt it exists, as it is also found in the Soonderbunds not far from Calcutta; but it is fairly plentiful on the left bank south of Goalparah, where I have killed it.
As a rule, rhinoceros are inoffensive; they do a good deal of damage to grain if any is grown within a reasonable distance of their haunts, but generally they inhabit such remote localities that they can do no harm. It is naturally a timid animal, more anxious to escape than fight, and it is by no means difficult to kill. Of course, when a rhinoceros has been severely wounded and is closely followed up, it will turn; but so will a rat, or, as they say, even a worm; but its principal anxiety is to get away and lie in some mud-hole, where it wallows, and where it probably dies. The horn is only used for grubbing up roots; when they wish to attack they use their incisors, which with them answer much the same purpose as tushes in a boar. They can inflict a clean deep cut, and they appear at certain seasons to fight amongst themselves, for I have killed both males and females scored all over.
It used to be said that the skin of the rhinoceros will resist an ordinary ball, but that is all sheer nonsense; a spherical ball out of a smooth-bore, if rightly placed, will kill one of these animals far easier than it will a buffalo. It is not the hide, but the enormous muscles, mass of flesh and bones, that cover the vital organs, that render the use of heavy rifles and immense charges so necessary to penetration. But as Von Hohnel killed two rhinoceros in East Africa with one ball, using a Mannlicher rifle, a similar weapon should account for them in the East. Colonel Campbell, an old Assamese shikarie, had the credit of also having killed two rhinoceros with one ball; but it was not quite certain, for he did fire two shots, but at animals some way apart; whereas the two killed were standing alongside of one another. I have sent a hardened bullet right through one.
If the bullet, with a sufficiency of powder behind it, is placed in the centre of the shield over the shoulder, rather