KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK, India — After a night of traditional music and dance, The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge headed out in a jeep April 13 morning into the wilds of remote northeast India for a wildlife safari to see rhinos, elephants and more.
Dressed in cotton casuals and wearing local Assamese hand-woven gamochas, or scarves, around their necks, the British royal couple looked relaxed as they sat in the back of the open jeep driving through park during the hot and humid morning, local resident Ranjit Rajak said.
Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, spent several hours at the KazirangaNational Park in hopes of drawing attention to the plight of endangered animals, including the park's 2,200-population of a rare, one-horned rhinos.
The animals are under threat from wildlife poachers and habitat loss. Already this year, six rhinos have been killed for their horns, after 20 were poached in 2015.
The royal couple was joined by a park official acting as a guide on a tour across dirt tracks, tall grasslands and thick evergreen forest.
They met a group of forest rangers and wildlife wardens at an anti-poaching camp inside the 185-square-mile reserve, which is also home to other endangered species including swamp deer and the Hoolock gibbon.
V.S. Bhaskar, a top Assam state government official, said the royal couple saw rhinos, wild boars, buffalos, hog deer and a variety of birds. "They enjoyed the trip quite a lot. They were very happy," he said.
Prince William asked the forest rangers about the conservation challenges they face, he said.
The rangers told him that the poachers were using sophisticated automatic weapons, whereas the forest guards had old rifles, which were being upgraded, Bhaskar said.
Just two days earlier, park officials said yet another rhino had been poached, bringing the total number of rhinos killed in Kaziranga National Park this year to six.
Poachers shot the rhinoceros and, while it was still alive, sawed off its horn before fleeing before dawn April 10, wildlife official Subasis Das said. Once the dying animal was discovered, park officials rushed to try to save it but were unsuccessful, he said.
Will and Kate had arrived April 12 at the 12-cottage jungle resort where they stayed, and were entertained by a presentation of traditional Bihu dance.
The prince tried to play a traditional bamboo jaw harp, a vibrating reed instrument, between his lips. "I need some more practice," he told the group of musicians.
The couple have already visited Mumbai and New Delhi on a weeklong tour of India. They will stay in Kaziranga until April 14, when they will make a one-day trip to neighboring Bhutan.
William and Kate will then head back to India, where they'll wind up their tour with a visit to the Taj Mahal, retracing the steps of a 1992 visit to the monument of love by William's mother, the late Princess Diana.
Earlier, the royal couple joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a private lunch April 12 at a former palace in New Delhi.
Before going indoors, Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, strolled on either side of Modi, chatting and smiling before posing for cameras. Kate wore a full-sleeved gauze green dress, while William donned a blue suit and Modi was clad neck-to-toe in white.
The four-course meal, including vegetarian dishes as well as meat, was served as Indian classical musician Rahul Sharma played the santoor. Sharma included in his performance a rendition of the Beatles' “Let It Be,'' according to Indian media. Other guests included several Cabinet ministers and business leaders.